SERVICE station owners to get refunds for leftover inspection stickers

Friday, May 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Service station owners will be filling out requests for refunds for leftover stickers now that the state now longer requires vehicle inspections.

After Gov. Frank Keating signed a bill on Wednesday that immediately eliminated the program, letters were sent to state inspection stations informing them that field auditors would be calling to perform close-out audits.

In the letters, Gene Fitzpatrick, director of the state Department of Public Safety's vehicle inspection division, told station owners how to get the refunds.

``We felt it was the only right thing to do,'' Fitzpatrick said Thursday.

The elimination of the program could initially cost Oklahoma between $1 million and $2 million.

Fitzpatrick said he doesn't know how much in refunds the state will be sending back. His office typically sells 2.8 million stickers a year to inspection stations, which pay $1 per sticker.

``Some people (stations) have been buying less, anticipating this law,'' he said. ``Others bought more thinking people will want a new inspection before the law goes into effect.''

Charlie Webster, owner of Scott's Goodyear Service Center in northwest Oklahoma City, said he usually buys a set of 12 books costing about $300. Each book contains 24 stickers.

``Sometimes we go through 12 books in a month,'' Webster said. As of Thursday, he said he has about eight or nine books left.

There are more than 3,000 inspection stations across the state.

The letter said any orders for more books will be returned to the stations. Once the outstanding stickers have been tallied, field auditors will pick up the stickers, inspection signs, station reports and supplies. Fitzpatrick expects the process to take a few months.

``We don't want them (stations) to bring it in because it would create long lines here and headaches for everyone,'' he said.

Keating on May 1 signed House Bill 1081 abolishing the 31-year-old inspection program. It originally was not to go into effect until Aug. 25. The delay caused confusion among motorists who weren't sure whether to renew their inspections.

Public Safety Commissioner Bob Ricks asked for the emergency change to not only help confused motorists but also to help law enforcement officers who were unsure whether to continue enforcing the old law.