MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Auto inspections in Memphis are painful. They are basically like getting root canals for the four, six and eight cylinder patients. In two weeks the Memphis City Council is scheduled to vote on a plan where the city would get out of the inspections business by July of next year. They can legally do it. “The state is ultimately responsible for the inspection process,” says Memphis City Chief Administrative Officer George Little, “…and they help us maintain good air quality.”
City Council member Jim Strickland came up with an idea about a month ago. The city should just stop doing auto inspections, and let Shelby County deal with everything. Now Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell isn’t dancing with glee over this plan. No dancing in fact. Not a sprig of glee. “They don’t have the authority to turn it over to the county,” Mayor Luttrell says. “All they can do is refuse to do it themselves. It’s up to us to determine whether or not it’s something that needs to be done, and if it does need to be done, then how do you go about doing it.”
Over the last few years, the city of Memphis has started losing money on vehicle inspections. It’s just one reason why Mayor Luttrell is in no rush to take on a project with all that red ink bleeding. The city’s lawyers are checking to see if Mayor Luttrell is right, by the way, saying the city can’t force the county to pick up the job. Part of politics is spending time and money to either prove you’re correct, or spending time and money to try and hide the fact that you were wrong.
Let’s say the State of Tennessee takes over the inspections process. The state does the work in Chattanooga, Knoxville and in Nashville. All three cities have air quality problems. It would be a good point in this story to tell people who live outside of the Memphis city limits to listen up. The state doesn’t just inspect vehicles in the city. “In fact,” George Little says, “…in Middle Tennessee it is Davidson County and the surrounding contiguous counties that are part of the metropolitan area. So even if you were a resident in one of those surrounding counties, you have to go through the tests.”
City Council members were scheduled to vote on the issue this week, but it was delayed, and is now scheduled for the August 22nd meeting.