The Commercial Appeal

Memphis auto inspection­s roll to a stop

Stations closed Friday

- By Tom Charlier

Memphis residents were subject to inspection­s — at a cost to the city of $2.7 million annually — when the entire county is classified as in violation of federal air-quality standards for ozone pollution.

Even though he agreed with that sentiment, Paul McKinney, 54, another motorist undergoing inspection Friday, said he was sorry to see the testing end. “I just wish they’d come up with a system that would make it fair for everyone,” he said.

With the shutdown of the stations, 28 bureau employees lost their jobs, city spokeswoma­n Dewanna Lofton said. Of that number, 11 are eligible for retirement, and four others will be rehired in other positions with the city.

Four bureau employees will be retained for the short term to close the stations and mothball the equipment, said Memphis chief administra­tive officer George Little.

Because the inspection program was credited with eliminatin­g about 350 tons of pollution annually from local skies, the city and county could face federal sanctions resulting from the shutdown. If commensura­te pollution reductions aren’t found, the county could lose federal highway funds and be forced to exact major cuts in emissions from existing industries before any new factories are built. Additional­ly, Memphis could be forced to repay some $3.4 million in grant funds used to build the inspection station off Appling.

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