Future emissions tests likely won't be free - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Future emissions tests likely won't be free

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Free rides through vehicle inspection lines will likely soon be over in Memphis.

City council voted in August 2012 to do away with funding for inspections to save 2.8 million. They thought the county would foot the bill for the program, but this past January Shelby County asked the state to take over emissions testing.

This means, if you live any where in Shelby County, you'll probably be required to pay to get your car inspected before getting your plates renewed..

Councilman Lee Harris said it's likely Memphians and others living in Shelby County will be opening their wallets to get their vehicles inspected.

MORE: Memphis abolishes all car inspection employees

"A lot of folks complained that why should just Memphians go through vehicle inspections? It's really a county-wide ozone problem and so both the city and county residents should have to go through inspections if we're going to be fair," he said.

The city will surrender its control of the emissions testing July 1. Councilman Harris says he and other city council members aren't sure how the program will be handled, but that in other cities with state-run inspections drivers have more options and that the cost is low, typically around $10.

"In other cities where the state has operated vehicle inspections, they basically contract to private garages, like your Jiffy Lubes, places like that to get their emissions," Councilman Lee said.

In addition to Memphis saving nearly $3 million in doing away with the program, the move doesn't come without a cost. Thirty-three full time workers at the inspection bureaus were told Wednesday they would be out of a job JUly 1. Thirteen of the 33 of them are eligible for retirement.

However, Councilman Harris plans to present a severance package for approval at the next city council meeting, providing a few weeks pay, continued health insurance and job skills training for the other 20 employees.

"Those three component parts at least we hope will soften the blow because this is pretty gut-wrenching," he said.

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