March 1 Is Tax Day For Taxicabs In Ocean City

Posted on February 26, 2010

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For anyone who owned and operated a taxicab fleet or a single taxicab in Ocean City last season, March 1 is tax day. That’s the day you must show up at City Hall and purchase a taxicab medallion if you want to stay in business. The price tag, or franchise fee, is $1,500 each for every taxicab, payable on the installment plan.

The sale will start at 10 a.m. Monday, March 1, in the Town Council chambers at City Hall. Be there or find another line of work. Everyone who owned and operated one or more of the approximately 130 cabs in Ocean City in 2009 is guaranteed the opportunity to pay the $1,500 franchise fee and obtain a medallion for every cab operated last year. Taxi operators will continue to pay $300 for a business license, and town and state inspection fees.

It’s a one-day-only chance-of-a-lifetime to get in on the ground floor of the new, strictly regulated taxicab industry in Ocean City. After all existing cab operators have purchased medallions, the town will sell remaining medallions, up to a limit of 175, to individuals or fleet operators who would like to get into the taxi business.

Aspiring new taxi operators must appear, same time, same place, and put their name on a list by 11 a.m. to be eligible for a chance at the remaining medallions. If there are more new taxi operators than available medallions, the medallions will be sold by lottery.

Any medallions not sold on March 1 will be held by the town for possible future sale, and the price will go up to $2,000 on March 2.

Town Council members have repeatedly expressed  confidence that the value of the medallions will appreciate in the future, and taxi operators will be able to transfer the medallions to new operators at a profit. However, the town will retain ownership of the medallions, and has the authority to revoke a medallion for violations of law or regulation. Taxi operators will pay an additional $500 fee for each cab every year to maintain the right to the medallion.

In addition to raising new tax revenue, the goal of the franchise fee and regulation program is to limit competition in the Ocean City taxi business, and to improve the safety and quality of cab service to the public. Taxi operators have been authorized a modest fare increase to help them offset the cost of the medallions.

The Town Council passed the taxi law after extended discussion and  votes during three meetings over four weeks, and scheduled the sale without delay at the end of winter.  The town is not promoting or publicizing this one-time business opportunity. I can find no announcement of the sale on town Web sites. However, the  medallion sale has been reported in the Maryland Coast Dispatch and Ocean City Today newspapers, and here at Maryland On My Mind.

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