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Palm Coast Monday, Jul. 12, 2021 2 months ago

Mosquito Control District to seek resident input on proposed expansion to western Flagler

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A proposed phased approach would start with Sawmill Estates and communities east of the railroad tracks.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

The county government is working on a potential agreement that would bring mosquito control service to the west side of the county. 

But the East Flagler Mosquito Control District says the county actually already has such an agreement, and all county officials need to do in order to have the west side sprayed is contact the Mosquito Control District and ask for it. 

"I hate the idea of people calling us and we say, 'Well, you need to call the county,' and they say, 'Well, the county said to call you.'"

 

— MIKE MARTIN, commissioner, East Flagler Mosquito Control District

“We’ve had an agreement in place — the 2003 agreement — between the county and the Mosquito District,” Mosquito Control District Commissioner Mike Martin told the County Commission at a commission meeting July 12. “It does not appear to be working. We have not received a single request from you this year for mosquito spraying.”

Martin said county employees have been telling west side residents who’ve complained about  mosquitos to contact the district. But the district can’t take action without direction from the county, so  the mosquito control staff have been telling those callers to go back to the county.

“I hate the idea of people calling us and we say, ‘Well, you need to call the county,’ and they say, ‘Well, the county said to call you,’” Martin said.

Interim County Administrator Heidi Petito said that she’d called the district about complaints, and was told by district staff to use the district’s website to file them. Since that time, she said, county government staff have created a survey to compile complaints and forward them to mosquito control. Petito said her staff haven’t received any in weeks. 

Martin said the county government could make the current agreement with the district work by establishing a threshold determining when the county contacts the district for service. 

Otherwise, he said, the county government and the Mosquito Control District could negotiate a new contract that would bring more regular mosquito control services to the west side.

County Commissioner Greg Hansen asked Martin if the district is testing for or trapping mosquitos. Martin said that it’s not, because the request for testing and trapping has to come from the county government. 

“What I’m telling you now is start testing — start putting traps up,” Hansen said. “Start today.”

County Commissioner Andy Dance noted that the Mosquito Control District can’t just do so on Hansen’s say-so.

Martin said that one ramification of the fact that the district hasn’t been conducting testing on the county’s west side is that it doesn’t know where the bugs are, how many there are or what type of control methods are needed.

That means the district doesn’t know how much it would cost to expand mosquito control services to the west side beyond emergency spraying. 

The district has proposed a phased expansion plan that would bring regular mosquito services first as far west as the railroad tracks, then later to other communities. 

Martin said that the first phase is designed to cover Sawmill Estates, a new community that the district believes would bring in enough revenue to support the expanded services.  

But the district wants to first survey residents to see if they even want that service, and would be willing to pay for it — likely around $45 per household per year. If so, the Mosquito Control District will present an amended agreement to the County Commission for approval, Martin said. 

In terms of expanding to other areas, like the Mondex, the district doesn’t yet have enough data on the costs, Martin said. 

“We can’t agree to a plan that’s going to bankrupt us in the long term,” he said. “... It’s going to take a while for us to make sure that we can deliver what we’re promising.”

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