On Wednesday, the Ada County Air Quality Board voted 5-to-4 in favor of reducing the frequency of required emissions testing to every other year starting January 1, 2010. The adopted change also exempts vehicles that are four years old and newer, and exempts pre-1982-model-year vehicles. I have been advocating for similar changes to be made to the program since at least 2001 and view these program changes as a huge victory for taxpayers.
Unfortunately, the same board voted 8-to-1 to raise the maximum allowable charge for the same test from $15 to $20. I cast the lone dissenting vote. Even with the potential of the increased cost, vehicle owners in Ada County will save more than $1.6 million a year.
We also voted to raise the cap from $200 to $300 on how much one can be asked to pay to fix a vehicle to bring it into compliance before being granted a “repair waiver.” I voted with the group on this motion after being reassured that there is also a hardship exemption available for people who cannot afford to pay for repairs to bring their cars into compliance with emissions testing standards.
I also asked about a waiver for people who drive their vehicles less than some established minimum number of miles each year, a concept which I fully support; however, by consensus, the group decided to leave such waiver decisions up to the discretion of Air Quality Board Executive Director Dennis Turner, who can be reached at 377-9191.
Please keep in mind that whether the maximum allowable emissions testing fee is $15 or $20, it is not necessary to pay that much to get one’s vehicle tested in Ada County. I have seen some testing sites that are currently charging $10 for the test. You can shop around and save money.