The State of Tennessee will be taking over the vehicle emissions testing program this summer, which means drivers in Memphis will have to pay a fee to get their cars inspected.
Shelby County residents, though, won't have to do anything for at least the next six years.
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Vehicle emissions testing will be about $10 per car or truck, according to an estimate sent to county and city mayors earlier this month by Robert Martineau, Department of Environment and Conservation commissioner.
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell said he spoke with the commissioner on Wednesday and the Volunteer State has agreed to take over inspections in Memphis.
Vehicle inspections are required in Memphis because of a pollution reduction agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency. The city of Memphis decided to get out of the inspection business. The move will save the Bluff City a little more than $2 million annually.
City council members believe this is a regional issue. They didn't want just Memphis residents to pay for it. But if the inspections just stopped, the city and Shelby County could face serious sanctions from the EPA, including limits on new developments in the county or cuts in federal highway funding.
"Where we really ran the risk of some serious sanctions is if we did nothing, so that's why it was imperative that we get it resolved as to what was going to take place once the city had surrendered that particular task," Mayor Luttrell said.
The city was trying to save money, but city residents are going to have to pay the new fee out of pocket. Anyone in the county won't see a difference as they won't have to participate.
Other metropolitan areas in the state require all residents to get inspected. The reason why Memphians will foot the bill for inspections starting this summer is that there is an agreement or memorandum that only requires the city of Memphis to complete inspections. County residents will be exempt through at least 2019.