MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Memphis City Councilman Ed Ford, Jr. wants to start charging people for auto inspections. If you don't live in the city but work here, or show up more than two days a week, your car would also have to be inspected.
Right now, auto inspections are only needed in Memphis. County residents don't need them.
The Ford plan would mean charging people between six and eight bucks for the inspections. Cops using license plate readers would determine if you drive your car in the city more than twice a week, and car would have to be inspected as well.
I know what you're thinking, Ford says, charging for vehicle inspections is just a way for the city to make money.
But he contends, "It should not look like a money grab."
Maybe it shouldn't, but there are plenty of people who will think that's what it is. And it is, really, because right now the city loses more than two and a half million dollars a year running its auto inspection centers. By charging, the inspection centers would pay for themselves.
You folks who commute to Memphis from Shelby County or Mississippi or Arkansas however, you'd have to get your car inspected as well. Anybody who comes to Memphis more than twice a week would have to pay up. City cops would use automated license plate readers to determine who needs to get inspections.
"We corresponded a little bit with them and they said they could actually track that with some other data base to where it could show if somebody has been in the city two or more times a week," Ford said.
There are an estimated 310,000 registered vehicles in Memphis. If you add the number of cars in Shelby County, the number doubles to more than 600,000.
Ford says the inspection fees would pay for everything needed. And, he says, "Any excess funds can be used to lower the property tax rate."
This is just in the planning stages right now. Ford will come back and give city council members more details about the plan in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, everything remains the same.