Out-of-towners could soon be required to get auto inspections

(WMC-TV) - Drivers could soon have to pay more to drive in Memphis, whether they live in the city or not.

A Memphis City Council member says all drivers contribute to the city's air quality problems, so all drivers should have to pay for it.

Councilman Edmund Ford is a math teacher. He did the calculations and learned there are more out-of-towners driving on Memphis streets than there are Memphis drivers. But right now, only Memphians are required to pay for auto inspections.

"The ultimate goal that we're looking at is clean air quality," said Ford. "Anybody that is in the city of Memphis who contributes to the air pollution should have the compelling interest to do something about the air pollution."

Ford says the goal is to offset costs Memphis pays for automobile air pollution compliance.

Ford made the proposal during Tuesday's meeting. He wants to charge about $7 annually to out-of-town Memphis workers.

He said if employers do not add the fee to paychecks, the city could consider license plate readers.

"If we had that database, it could show four or five straight weeks of this person being here five days per week," he said.

Ford says this is not a money grab, but it could actually help lower the Memphis tax rate.

Ford says a similar fee system is already in place in Nashville, among other cities.

The actual amount of the inspection fee has not been decided. A council committee did approve it, but it will be studied more. Ford added a full discussion on the issue could come in two weeks during a city council meeting.

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