(April 23, 2021) Ocean City Council members said they plan to reevaluate fees charged to taxi owners after the arrival of rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft devastated the way cab companies were run.
During a police commission meeting last week, Police Chief Ross Buzzuro said cab companies that did not pay 2020 and 2021 business license fees to the town could face penalties if they do not pay up. They also will not be permitted to get inspected, which is a requirement if the owners want to drive people around in Ocean City.
In 2020, the town waived fees associated with the inspections and medallions, but the payment of $300 to operate a business in Ocean City was not waived.
A letter went out to some drivers in January telling them they needed to pay both years in order to drive, but it was said during the council meeting on Monday that the letter went out in error. Instead, the chief said, conversations with cab owners who did not pay last year’s fees are taking place directly to ensure they are aware of what is expected of them in 2021.
Councilman John Gehrig raise concerns about the fees associated with medallions.
The town charges $1,000 to the new owner of a medallion if it was sold to them from another driver. Before Ocean City charged $1,000, drivers or owners were charged a percentage of the medallion’s value.
With the arrival of Uber and Lyft, the value of a medallion has dropped to zero, so to charge a percentage of nothing would wind up being $0.00.
“It’s not the same business as when it started,” Gehrig said.
But charging the drivers a business fee without really knowing whether they drove last year or not had Gehrig questioning the taxi system even more.
“If they didn’t drive last year, asking them to pay two years of fees ... that’s a little stiff,” he said.
Councilman Matt James suggested to the other members that they look into how other municipalities handled the arrival of Uber and Lyft, and whether the medallion values were affected.
The other municipalities may have already done the homework, according to Councilman Tony DeLuca.
The council did not take action on the matter and plans to wait until the additional information is obtained before moving determining what to do next.