By BEN GRAFTON
The Feb. 19 meeting of the South Walton County Mosquito Control District (SWCMCD) opened with director Ben Brewer reporting that 80 percent of budgeted fees and 30 percent of state funding expected for the month have been received. He noted that because of the mild winter, another bad season for mosquitoes is predicted and, as a result, high chemical costs are expected again this year.
Brewer reminded the commissioners that SWCMCD is one of the few organizations which test for mosquito borne viruses through the winter months. He reported that positive test results for West Nile Virus are still showing in samples taken from chickens. Plans are in place to test for viruses throughout the 12 months of 2013.
The program to raise chickens in-house is continuing. Sixty-six biddies are doing well and plans are in place to start a new batch in incubation next week.
Kevin Bowyer of Warren Averett presented an overview of the annual financial audit. He commented that revenue in 2012 was a little over budget and recommended that inventories be conducted on a regular periodic basis throughout the year. However, no significant problems were found in financial controls and Geraldine Via is doing a good job. He reported that the SWCMCD had a net loss in 2012, but that it still had a good cash position ($634,000) with which to go forward. Capital assets are down due to depreciation. The outstanding liabilities are primarily those for compensated absences and health insurance. Chairman Bob Hudson commended Via and Brewer for the work done in 2012 to control expenses. A motion to accept the financial report was approved.
Commissioner John Magee asked Bowyer what SWCMCD cash reserves should be. Bowyer replied that, as a rule of thumb, cash reserves should be in the range of three to six months of expected expenditures, which is the level now on hand.
Hudson found that the post-employment benefits report from Foster & Foster listed commissioners as beneficiaries, however commissioners do not get any post-employment benefits. Foster & Foster will be contacted to get this corrected.
A discussion about issuing and signing SWCMCD checks took place. Via, because of her position, will not be authorized to sign checks. Commissioners see all expenses prior to issuing checks and at least one commissioner will always signs checks. A program to provide secure digital check signing software will be considered. Via will have signature authority for other documents. A motion to adopt the revised check signing procedure was approved.
Magee expressed concern about reports that list all employees salaries because of the personal information contained. Via replied that employees do not have access to this report and Hudson commented that he likes the report because all expense details can be seen. The board agreed that no change to the report would be made.
Hudson pointed out that Brewer does not have a designated attorney to call in the event that guidance in a legal matter is required. He has heard of an attorney who has recently moved to Freeport who might provide that service. The board approved a motion authorizing Brewer to call an attorney if needed.
Tim Norris excused himself from the meeting so that he could attend the board meeting of the Tourist Development Council as the SWCMCD representative on that board.
A discussion took place on the subject of reimbursing employees for meals when appropriate. A guide of $8 for breakfast, $12 for lunch and $22 for diner, when documented by receipts, was approved.
A motion to adopt the revised check signing procedure was approved.
A discussion about dealing with “no spray” zones took place. Fearing a situation when virus infections occur in a “no-spray” zone, Hudson proposed a control that requires the director to get a notarized statement of understanding about health exposures signed by property owners before a “no-spray” zone can be activated. The board approved this proposal
The board approved purchase of Fleet Maintenance software for $999.
Brewer will seek a maintenance proposal to have a qualified provider perform routine maintenance on the SWCMCD back-up generator.
Brewer has started using Google Earth to get maps to accurately identify areas to be treated for mosquitoes. In the future it might be possible for field crews to see this information on a smart phone or iPad.
Brewer reported on the cellular phone service review. There is no contract covering the current service with Sprint. He proposes switching the service to Verizon where there would be no contract or obligation.