Town set to bring back VIN inspections

Town set to bring back VIN inspections

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Nearly a decade after the private operator of a town VIN station shut it down in the midst of ongoing controversy, officials are ready to bring back the service as a municipal operation.

Mayor Charles Lombardi and Chief Arthur Martins said the new North Providence Public Safety Complex across from the high school on Mineral Spring Avenue will be the headquarters for inspections of vehicle identification numbers, a service required to ensure that vehicles have a clean title and aren’t stolen.

The two said they’ve had a number of requests from local dealers and residents about bringing back the town service, Martins saying some people have stopped into the station to ask about if the service is offered.

“It’s something that we thought needed to be addressed,” said Lombardi. “It’s a service, and hopefully it picks up.”

“Why go to Lincoln, Pawtucket or Johnston when they can come to their local police department and have the service done here,” said Martins. “It makes no sense for them to be going out of town for something we can provide in town.”

This is a good time of the year to implement the service, he said, with calls for police service generally low. He said the goal here is not so much about revenue, but about providing a service to the community in a convenient spot where they don’t have to travel far.

“We hope people take advantage of it,” he told The Breeze.

The service will start out being offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to noon. Depending on demand, officials may increase those hours and days.

The cost will be $15 for people who live in town, $20 for non-residents.

The $20 fee is in line with what many other communities are charging, according to state listings, and is in keeping with Rhode Island law, said Lombardi. Running the service really won’t require much in the way of police resources, said Martins, with the entire process for one VIN check lasting 10 minutes or less and existing staff planning to take care of it.

The first day of the service will be Tuesday, Feb. 18, said Martins.

The town’s former VIN station, shut down by its private operator in the spring of 2011 after continued questions from town officials, proved to be a political football for years. While Lombardi claimed the town lost significant revenue after what was purely “a political thing,” his opponents said the station was losing money.

Among the accusations were that the operation of the station didn’t go out to bid, that the station shouldn’t have been run by a private operator, and that Lombardi had hooked up a political ally with the deal.

The mayor says traffic was “rolling pretty good” when the old VIN station was shut down, with one dealer sometimes coming in for 50 to 60 VIN checks per month.

“It was just starting to work,” said Lombardi previously. “We had gone from paying $56,000 a year when I took office (in 2007) to the town making money. This is too bad.”

Former Council President Kristen Catanzaro had contended that the VIN station wasn’t bringing in more than $25,000 per year in revenue, while the town was paying out nearly $30,000 to its operator for the service.

Comments

$15/$20, for something DMV can provide for free? Oh wait I forgot it's RI!!

Are you thick, buddy? The DMV doesn't do this for free. It's a requirement to register a car at the DMV. Know before you type.