By BEN GRAFTON
According to South Walton Mosquito District (SWMD) Director Ben Brewer, at the Board’s meeting of March 20, about 87 percent of revenues from local and state sources have been received and expenditures are near budget. So far, overtime burdens have not been too great.
Commissioner Robert Hudson noted that there are reports from across the state of early mosquito activity. Locally the mosquitoes are Asian Tigers and some of them are coming from idle swimming pools where the chlorine has broken down leaving a breeding site. Chairman John Magee added that in wet weather even leaves on the ground become breeding sites.
Brewer reported that the district office is getting six calls each day about mosquito activity. Calls are coming from sites adjacent to wooded areas and ditches in addition to the swimming pools, and the district has done four spray runs in the last month. He commented that traps with chicken have not been put out yet, that mosquito-eating fish can be harvested locally and used in appropriate sites, and that chemicals purchased last year are losing their potency so new supplies are being purchased.
The board asked Brewer to put out a press release that asks residents to take steps to eliminate breeding areas on their properties. Residents should check for water standing in a variety of open containers.
Representatives of two different disability insurance providers made presentations to the board about plans that are available to cover the district’s employees. A non-taxable long term benefit of 60 percent of an employee’s pay up to $1,000 per week is available. There is an “elimination period” of about three months following the disability during which no benefit is paid. Employees can be advised that they can obtain their own short term disability insurance, benefits from which are taxable, to cover this period.
According to Office Manager Geraldine Via no comparisons have been made between the presentations and what is currently available, but at the board’s request, appropriate comparisons will be provided.
Brewer will prepare a protocol, for board approval, for inspecting mosquito breeding sites and scheduling treatments. A hand-held GPS locator will be used to positively locate the sites and the location information will be entered into a binder.
Brewer noted that parks and schools are being treated and asked whether or not this policy extends to barrier spraying for private events such as fishing tournaments and wine tasting events. Commissioner James Crawford replied that organizers of these events should go to commercial control services to have spraying done.
Crawford indicated that he understood the justification for accepting old tires at the district’s yard for disposal. If not turned in, these tires would have to be treated in the field at added cost. He does not understand why old television sets are allowed to be turned in there, particularly since people just leave the sets on the ground for district employees to deal with.
Brewer reported that there are several “outreach opportunities” (car shows, Earth Day, etc.) at which pictures, pamphlets and coloring books for children will be provided to promote the science of what the district does.
Hudson thinks that the district should have a vehicle that looks good and displays a design that clearly identifies the SWMD. That design should be on the district’s trucks and, by April 21 a vehicle with the design should be ready for the Earth Day event.
Brewer will follow up on the design issue.
Hudson also noted that the district would soon be doing budget planning for the next fiscal year and that the budget should provide for a new pickup truck and a van.