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State wants to increase emissions inspection fees

February 20, 2001

State wants to increase emissions inspection fees



By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer


ANNAPOLIS - Maryland wants to increase the vehicle emissions inspection fee from $14 to $20.

The fee, which just jumped from $12 to $14 last year, needs to be raised again to meet the increasing cost of running the program, said Motor Vehicle Administration Administrator Anne S. Ferro.

Motorists in many parts of the state, including Washington County, must have their cars tested every other year to make sure they aren't spewing too many pollutants.

The new contractor Maryland hired last year to run the inspection stations charges nearly twice as much as the previous contractor.

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In return, customers are getting better service, she said.

For $18.9 million a year, Environmental Systems Products Corp. was required to reduce wait times at the stations or pay hefty fines to the state, Ferro said.

The test must be done in less than 15 minutes, with the average wait time being 5 minutes, she said.

The number of people whose cars have been damaged by the testing equipment has also been cut in half since the new contractor started, she said.

If the fee isn't raised, the money to run the program will have to be taken out of road construction and mass transportation projects.

Even with a $20 fee Ferro said Maryland will still have one of the lowest emissions inspection fees in the country.

The Maryland General Assembly has to approve the fee increase.

A hearing was held Tuesday in the House Environmental Matters Committee.

Washington County lawmakers have long opposed the VEIP program and have tried in vain to get county residents exempted from the test.

"I don't like it the least little bit. I'm certainly going to vote against it. Washington County shouldn't be stuck with the VEIP program. Our air is clean enough up there," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

Maryland began the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program in 1984 after the federal government threatened to withhold highway funding.

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