Mosquito program proposed

St. James Parish government is considering a parishwide mosquito control program.

The proposed plan was
one of the major issues that came up Monday during a special Parish Council meeting held to discuss Parish President Timmy Roussel’s proposed budget for the 2013 fiscal year, which begins Jan. 1.

In this year’s budget, the parish provided $101,000 from its general fund for mosquito control.

The proposed 2013 budget plans for the parish to apply most of the $225,000 in savings from its new solid waste contracts to fund a parishwide mosquito control program.

The program would utilize three employees and chemical spraying from pickup at a cost of $308,800, according to budget documents.

That $308,800 is allotted in the solid waste disposal fund.

The parish employs a “nuisance control policy” in which traps are set to test mosquitos for West Nile virus, parish spokeswoman Melissa Wilkins said. The parish sprays if a test comes back positive for West Nile virus.

The parish also plans to help fund the mosquito control program with a proposed monthly charge of $1.50 added to utility bills.

That surcharge is expected to bring in $98,800 in revenue annually, Parish Director of Operations Jody Chenier said.

Although many on the council have supported an expanded mosquito control program, Councilman Jimmy Brazan said he believed the funds should go to other programs.

“I think this council wants (mosquito control) and they’re pushing it on the people,” Brazan said.

Parish government recently mailed a survey to 9,740 residents asking them about the importance of a number of services, including hurricane protection, parishwide recycling and a mosquito control program, Wilkins said.

Brazan also spoke against the monthly charge on utility bills.

If parish residents want mosquito control, he said, “They should vote on it and be willing to pay for it.”

Roussel said he believed Brazan was “in the minority” on the subject of parishwide mosquito control.

The council previously held a public hearing Nov. 21 in Vacherie to discuss the proposed budget, which features $62.1 million in projected revenue and $64.1 million in expenditures.

The roughly $2 million difference will be made up by surplus funds from this fiscal year, Roussel said.

Another public hearing is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Dec. 5 in Convent, and the council could adopt the budget at its next meeting that day.