Mosquito Abatement District thinking of expandingBy Erin Sherbert
First, Mosquito Abatement District officials said there was no money to protect San Mateo County's northern and coastal cities from a potential West Nile Virus outbreak.
Then, a vector ecologist from the district announced there was about $142,000 set aside to help protect the communities.
But the district manager now is insisting that there is no money in the $1.5 million budget to help protect those areas from the potential deadly disease.
"There are no funds set aside for those areas," said Robert Gay, the district manager. "The funds we have are required to provide service for the areas where we receive funds."
All of the cities south of Millbrae pay an annual parcel tax for services that include protection from West Nile Virus outbreaks.
Those tax dollars cannot be used to service the other seven cities and handful of coastal communities in the County that are not paying to be in the district, Gay said.
"She probably made a little mistake," Gay said when asked why a district employee would say there were "emergency funds" set aside to service those communities outside the district's boundaries.
Gay said the $142,000 the employee was referring to was the district's contingency fund, which is only used when money is tight -- not necessarily for West Nile Virus -- and in any case, only within the district.
In fact, Gay said, the Mosquito Abatement District is thinking of expanding its boundaries to include the entire County, so that every community can be protected from West Nile Virus.
They're hoping to get voter approval in November for an annual $15 per parcel tax for those homeowners who now live outside the district, Gay said.
Already, thousands of surveys have been sent out, asking homeowners if they'd be willing to pay the tax in exchange for mosquito abatement services.
If enough people show interest, the district will hold an election by mail and send out ballots by early November, said Gay.
So far, San Bruno has shown support, and Gay said he expects more municipalities to jump on board. The district has to get each city council to formally support an annexation before the district can take it to the voters.
"Across the board, I think we have support for this," Gay said.
Copyright ©2003 San Mateo County Times. Published 08/14/2003.