April 23, 2008 > Mosquito abatement
By Anuja Seith
Photos By courtesy of John R. Rusmisel
The Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District is proposing a new mosquito and disease control assessment. The District is primarily funded by the property tax of approximately 90 cents per $100,000 of the county's assessed value, plus the special tax of $1.75 per residence per year. Since 1982, this special tax has not increased while the operational cost over the past 25 years has exceeded available revenue. "We are spending more than we are making, particularly since the West Nile Virus came into our county," said John Rusmisel, District Manager at the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District.
The West Nile Virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne disease that has been found in parts of Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East and was first detected in New York City in 1999, then spread to Alameda County a few years later. In Alameda County, these mosquitoes have been detected on humans, horses, squirrels, and birds. The district took many steps such as increasing the trapping of adult mosquitoes for disease testing and population evaluation, hiring seasonal workers to increase larval surveillance and treatment programs to combat WNV.
The cost of controlling the WNV has stressed the district's limited budget. It is necessary for the district to replenish these lost revenues in order to maintain the current level of services and meet future challenges. "We may face a catastrophic situation because of global warming, which brings new species of mosquitoes and diseases like dengue and malaria," said Rusmisel. Years ago, according to Rusmisel, Asian Tiger mosquitoes came in with cargo ships carrying lucky bamboo and spread through ports in Oakland and Long Beach.
In order to meet such challenges, the district is proposing a maximum of $5 increase, which will be added to residents' property for the next fiscal year. For a single family home on one acre or less, the proposed annual assessment is $5, while other residential property types are assessed according to the number of units and size. Commercial, industrial and agricultural properties are assessed according to their parcel size and property type. This is a weighted ballot which is not based on property value, but on the amount of mosquito assessment. If the majority of weighted ballots returned are in support, the assessment may be levied in the fiscal year 2008-09 and may be continued in future years to fund the district's mosquito abatement services. The total amount expected to be raised from the proposed assessments for fiscal year 2008-09 is approximately $2,100,000.
The district sent out ballots to property owners in the county last month that can be mailed in the accompanying postage-paid return envelope or hand delivered at the public hearing meeting on Wednesday, April 30. This public hearing, held in the district's office at 5 p.m., is an opportunity for people to voice their comments, opinions or ask questions before the tabulation of the returned ballots begins. The results of the closed ballots are expected to be announced at the continuation meeting on May 14.
The Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District is located at 23187 Connecticut St. in Hayward. For more information on the District's services, ballot proceeding, proposed assessments call (510) 783-7744.
Mosquito Abatement Public Hearing
Wednesday, April 30
Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District Office
23187 Connecticut St., Hayward