The city of Idaho Falls is considering changing city code to have a mechanic, rather than police, perform the yearly safety inspection for taxis.
Lt. Shane Kaiser told City Council members Monday that the inspections are outside of the expertise of police and could expose the city to liability. Giving the job to someone else would also save about four days’ worth of overtime pay a year, he said.
“We’re saying these vehicles are safe and we’re not mechanics,” he said at a work session.
City ordinance has tasked police with performing these inspections for a long time, likely since whenever the city first passed the ordinance, said Assistant City Attorney Michael Kirkham.
The ordinance does not apply to vehicles driven by drivers for ride-sharing services. The state passed a law in 2015 forbidding any local regulation of services such as Uber and Lyft. The bill came in response to an attempt by Boise to regulate Uber.
“The city is prevented from stepping into that space and this ordinance does not step into that space,” Kirkham said.
This led a few Council members to question the difference. Mayor Rebecca Casper said it sometimes takes an accident or other incident before lawmakers regulate something.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s very fair,” said Councilman John Radford.
“It’s not fair,” Kaiser agreed.
The police would keep a list of mechanics who could perform the inspections and would still be in charge of issuing the inspection stickers. Kaiser said the inspections would likely cost about $45 on their own, although they could be cheaper or free if a taxi were to get inspected while it is getting other repairs done.
“We anticipate the cost is going to be minor for taxi operators,” Kirkham said.
The Council likely will vote on the proposal Aug. 22, Casper said.