The state will rebid a contract next year for emissions inspections in Hamilton County and four other Tennessee counties.
Envirotest has had the contract for the past six years for a program that has been often criticized by County Commission members, but has not been altered.
County Commissioner Jim Fields is now heading up a committee to look into the emissions program. He has called a meeting of the panel next Friday at 3 p.m.
The state's contract with Envirotest runs out next June 30.
Meg Lockhart of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said, "Hamilton County asked the state (TDEC) to take the program as part of the Early Action Compact process. By doing so, a contract will be proposed between the state and the company that wins the contract bid through the Request for Proposal process. The current program should be maintained because of the commitment in the Early Action Compact process so there are no negative impacts on air quality."
Asked if the inspection fee will remain $10, she said, "The contact will be bid out and the cost will be based on the bid proposal."
On the need to continue the program due to air quality concerns, Ms. Lockhart said, "If you look at the most current three years of ozone data, there are some indications that Hamilton County could have air quality concerns after 2012."
Eivirotest is a private company operating in a number of states and Canada. It is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio.
Meanwhile, Hamilton County Clerk Bill Knowles suggested three possible changes in the program.
He said, "Although County Clerk offices do not have regulatory authority over emission testing, there are three major concerns we hear expressed by Hamilton County motorists.
"1. Check Engine Light. Determine whether air quality standards are compromised when a check engine light is illuminated on the dash of a used vehicle and disqualifies the vehicle owner from applying for titling and/or registration.
“It is reported that there are differences of opinion between the testing centers and vehicle service technicians evaluating vehicles after having failed emission tests for this reason.
"2. New Car Exemptions. Expand the present emission test exemption for new vehicles--covering the original purchaser by expanding test exemptions from one year to two years. This would still keep corrective action within the three year/36,000 mile manufactures factory warranty period.
3. New Owner Transfer Privileges. Grant a one-year waiver to a new buyer transferring vehicle ownership when that vehicle is in compliance with the annual emission test law.