BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
CLEARFIELD — The Davis County Board of Health voted Tuesday to contract with a private sector company to continue providing emissions tests on older diesel vehicles at the I/M center in Kaysville.
However, the center will close to newer diesel vehicles and regular gasoline-powered vehicles on Jan. 1, as announced in May.
The board was asked to consider four options including discontinuing the diesel emissions program; requiring diesel vehicles to be tested in private stations without a dynamometer; keeping enough staff at the facility to continue testing; or contracting the work out. Salt Lake County currently requires the testing without the dynamometer, said Davis Health Dept. Director Lewis Garrett.
Under the approved plan, only diesel light- and medium-duty vehicles older than 2007 will be required to get emissions testing done at the center, Garrett said. Newer models are compliant with on-board diagnostic systems available at auto businesses in the private sector.
There are between 7,000 and 8,000 older diesel vehicles on the road in Davis County, accounting for approximately 4 percent of vehicles, Garret told board members. The only facility in Davis County capable of testing these vehicles is the I/M center in Kaysville.
The staff didn’t recommend doing away with the diesel emissions program altogether because, “air quality is the number one public health issue in the county,” Garrett said.
“It would just not be a good thing in the face of these concerns to eliminate diesel testing,” he said.
In addition to the regularly scheduled emissions testing, “there’s a fairly significant number of special tests that will have to be done after the closure,” Garrett said.
He’s hoping the contract with the private sector firm can include these tests.
As to the closure of the I/M center to most vehicles on Jan. 1, Garrett said the county is on track.
“It’s been a difficult decision, a painful decision for us dealing with job losses,” Garrett said.
There have been a small-to-moderate number of complaints about the decision, mainly from residents who trusted technicians because “repairs were not being sold,” he said.
The most critical complaints have come from employees, who may be losing their jobs, he said. Some of the 20 full-time and 17 part-time employees have been placed in other positions within the county’s air quality program, some have retired, and some have found jobs outside the department. For those who remain, the department has asked the Utah Dept. of Workforce Services to help them find other employment.
The department opted to close the center after the state Legislature passed a number of bills in the 2012 session, which reduced the frequency of emissions tests required, cutting into the center’s revenue by $300,000.
Another factor was the legislative intent, which sought to prohibit government testing, moving it instead to the private sector, Garrett said.