By BEN GRAFTON
The first order of business at the South Walton County Mosquito Control Board (SWCMC) meeting of Oct. 16 was the financial report and a lengthy discussion about budget revisions. Commissioner Bob Hudson reported that there is a carryover of $72,000 to the 2012-2013 budget and that the 2011-2012 fiscal year ended with a cash deficit of about $100,000 which came out of reserves.
Hudson said he is getting very concerned because of the constitutional amendments that are on November’s ballot. He said, “Amendment 4 could have a far reaching impact. In the past with a bounce back in the market we could see a 10-percent increase in revenues, but now we could only see a 5-percent increase. The other aspect is the recapture rate on homesteaded property. … now, even if my (property) value goes down, my taxes can go up by what is called a cost of living adjustment. This could be eliminated by one of the amendments.” The result could reduce tax revenue for SWCMCD.
Chairman John Magee said, “This will be a tough year, more so than we anticipated. We’re going in with our eyes open and we have to be careful.” He indicated some planned expenditures might have to be deferred.
The discussion turned to proposed budget amendments: Chemical costs in the coming year could possibly increase by $40,000 if another season with large mosquito populations and West Nile Virus materializes. To deal with this possibility a decision was made to add $20,000 to the chemicals budget and $20,000 to the contingency fund. Other changes included some increases in budgeted amounts for communications, utilities, training and printing.
Director Ben Brewer reported that blood samples taken from the chickens are still showing the presence of West Nile Virus and that a second case of West Nile Virus has been reported in the county. It is understood that the district is supposed to be given the general locations of where the West Nile Virus cases have occurred. If the information is received it will help mosquito control planning.
The office is getting calls that request inspections, but the heavy work load interferes with rapid response.
The status of GPS software for the spray trucks was reviewed. When this software is operational, it should be capable of providing historical data that will improve mosquito control planning
Questions arose about honoring “no spray zones” and treating abandoned pools. Magee said, “The district has to respect the no spray requests…but if one neighbor says, ‘No, I want you to spray,’ we have to spray.” Commissioner Jim Crawford said, “Once before the district was told that it had to get permission to spray pools. If no permission was given the pool cannot be treated.”
Brewer advised the board that personnel evaluations are written but are still ongoing.
Brewer also reported, “Advice has been received that it may not be fair, but it is legal to take benefits away from part-time employees.”
Hudson asked Brewer to conduct a time study to detail how much time a part-time employee spends mowing ditches to control plant growth.
A lengthy discussion about scheduling part-time employees ensued and concern was voiced that that assignments are not always thought out and planned.
Magee and Hudson asked Brewer to provide complete job descriptions for all employees.
Brewer reported that he had received some prices for a lawn maintenance service. The service would be provided two times per month at a cost of $125 for each occurrence. The cost to have a part-time employee do this work is about $20 per occurrence. Magee and Hudson agreed that they just want to be sure the lawn work is cost effective.
Pictures of damaged trucks were given to the board by Brewer. An effort is underway to send in an insurance claim. One quote received for doing cosmetic work on a truck was $2,000 – $2,500. Insurance is $500 deductable. Scratches on another truck can be buffed out and spot-painted in house
Hudson said that all damage to trucks should be evaluated and acted on promptly. Crawford agreed and indicated that without a police report the insurance company might not cover the damage.
Brewer addressed the issue of storm drains and commented there are an amazing number of these drains. All those that are holding water are treated. It costs about $30,000 to treat the whole group.
It has been determined that the acquired truck monitoring software will work. In order to transfer data collected at the shop to the office, a fiber optic cable or a directional antenna for wireless operation would have to be installed.