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VEHICLE EMISSION TEST FEES WILL JUMP TO $14 ON JULY 1

Following the example of Salt Lake and Utah counties, the vehicle emission testing fee in Davis County will go to $14 on July 1 as part of the county's new emissions control ordinance.

The county commissioners approved the ordinance that tightens emissions standards on cars and trucks and set the higher fee at their meeting Monday.County environmental health director Rich Harvey and his staff recommended the fee be increased from its current $9 to $12. Service station owners and mechanics recommended the fees be set at $15 or more in a public hearing two weeks ago.

The higher fees are justified because the ordinance, drawn up under new federal and state air quality standards, requires emissions check stations to buy a computerized testing machine that costs between $10,000 and $14,000.

Harvey recommended the $12 fee, which he said would allow station owners to recover the cost of the machine by testing about 100 vehicles per month over two to three years.

Mandated emissions testing should not be a source of income, Harvey said. His philosophy is that mechanics should earn income from repairing or bringing failed vehicles into compliance, not from the test itself.

County commissioner J. Dell Holbrook said he is generally opposed to government intruding into the marketplace by setting maximum fees and would like to see the fee level determined by competition and free enterprise.

But evidence presented to the commission shows that other states, such as California, that allow that have fees in the $30 to $35 range.

Holbrook said the $14 fee, rather than the $12 recommended by the county staff, is "reasonable and consistent with good management practices of a service station and for the general public."

Weber County is also required to establish vehicle emissions testing to bring its air quality into line with federal and state standards but has not set its testing fee yet.

Each of the four counties affected are violating different parameters of federal air quality standards, from particulate levels in Utah County to ozone levels in Davis County.

To meet the standards, each of the four will be testing for different levels of emissions after July 1. But under the new state statute, a vehicle owner must be able to have a vehicle tested in any of the four counties.

The computerized testing machines are programmable, using the vehicle owner's ZIP code, to test for the standards set by the owner's home county.