Sunday, May 27, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando mosquito control manager is leaving

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County's mosquito control manager is hanging up his bug swatter.

Dr. Guangye Hu is moving to California, environmental services director Susan Goebel-Canning told county commissioners during their budget hearing Tuesday evening.

"He will be greatly missed,'' said Goebel-Canning, who did not tell commissioners why Hu was leaving.

Hu, who spent the last 13 years running mosquito control, submitted his resignation last week and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

His office has been under scrutiny in recent years as declining county revenue has forced commissioners to trim staffing in many places, including mosquito control.

Critics of Hu and his staff said his $630,000 budget was too much to spend on battling insects, but heavy rains in 2011 and again this year generated enough phone calls that county officials ordered special mosquito spraying.

Last year, commissioners took the mosquito control budget out of the strapped general fund, dropped the tax levy for environmentally sensitive lands to zero, and instead charged an equal but separate tax rate to combat mosquitoes. In the county's tentative budget for 2012-13, that same arrangement applies.

In November, the county's voters will be asked if they want to keep the mosquito control tax in the 2013-14 fiscal year and beyond.

Hu, 58, grew up in the countryside of China and aspired to be a doctor to help ailing people. But after he graduated from Taishan Medical College in 1977, school authorities had him teach medical students about parasites and insects.

In an interview with the Times when he was hired, Hu said he was first mad about being diverted from what he wanted to do, "but after a while, I liked it.''

He came to the United States about 23 years ago to take a fellowship at the University of Florida's entomology laboratory in Vero Beach. He also worked as a graduate research assistant in Gainesville and for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

His county salary was $70,949; with benefits, he earned $90,012.

His cash-out for unused leave and paid time off is about $19,000.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

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