Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mosquito spraying resumes in Brooksville after dispute with county settled

** FILE ** This undated handout file photo provided by the Agriculture Department shows an aedes aegypti mosquito on human skin. A reader-submitted regarding the use of a bacterium to shorten the lifespan of mosquitoes is being answered as part of an Associated Press Q&A column called "Ask AP" (AP Photo/USDA, File)

** FILE ** This undated handout file photo provided by the Agriculture Department shows an aedes aegypti mosquito on human skin. A reader-submitted regarding the use of a bacterium to shorten the lifespan of mosquitoes is being answered as part of an Associated Press Q&A column called "Ask AP" (AP Photo/USDA, File)

BROOKSVILLE — For the past couple of months, the mosquitoes in and around Harold Johnson's home at Southern Hills Plantation Club had gotten so bad that he and his neighbors were reluctant to step outside after dusk for even a brief walk around the neighborhood.

"It's probably about as bad as I've ever seen it," Johnson said. "Everyone I know says the same thing."

Johnson wanted answers as to why the mosquito problem had gotten so out of hand this summer, so he called Hernando County Mosquito Control. He was told by coordinator/surveillance technician Rene Snow that it wasn't the county's problem.

Johnson lives in the city of Brooksville, which had received no mosquito control service from the county since fall of last year due to a funding dispute between the two entities.

Last week, however, Brooksville residents began to get at least some temporary relief when county officials agreed to allow spray trucks to once again enter the city limits.

The county's director of environmental services, Susan Goebel-Canning, said a small number of complaints had been received by the county about the lack of service.

"It's now summer, so maybe there were more complaints," she said. "But we're back in there now."

The dispute between the two governing bodies dates back to 2012, when the city passed an ordinance to opt into a voter-approved municipal services taxing unit as long as the rate did not exceed the one-tenth of a mill. But at the last minute, the city abandoned the agreement because it said it feared that county officials were going to charge residents more. To provide the required level of service, the county had to subsidize mosquito control through its general fund.

Brooksville City Council members felt that mosquito control should be considered an essential service, provided to all Hernando taxpayers regardless of where they lived, and they maintained there was no assurance that the taxing unit rate wouldn't be raised beyond what the council agreed to pay. With no signed agreement in place by July 1, 2013, the city asked that the county property appraiser remove the city from the taxing unit.

What followed was something of a stalemate that worsened months later after the county sent the city an invoice saying it owed $15,214 for spraying. An accompanying letter to City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha from County Adminstrator Len Sossamon said that the county would no longer provide the service until the bill was settled.

City Council member Lara Bradburn was dismayed by the county's decision to cease spraying, saying it showed little regard for public safety.

"It was shortsighted," Bradburn said of the decision.

Norman-Vacha, however, said she had been encouraged during recent talks with Sossamon and believed that a permanent solution could be found.

Last month, county commissioners set a tentative property tax rate that would eliminate the separate levy for mosquito control while raising the general fund tax rate — which everyone in the city and county pays — to accommodate the cost of providing mosquito control services. The amount added to the general fund rate was slightly higher than the old rate to provide the service.

Mosquito spraying resumes in Brooksville after dispute with county settled 08/01/14 [Last modified: Friday, August 1, 2014 8:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Protectors of Confederate statue readied for a battle that never materialized

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Big Dixie flags were waving. County employees had erected a barrier around the Confederate soldier statue at Main and Broad streets. Roads and parking areas were blocked off. Uniformed local officers and federal law enforcement patrolled.

    Police tape and barricades surround the Confederate statue in Brooksville.
  2. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  3. FSU-Bama 'almost feels like a national championship game Week 1'

    Blogs

    The buzz is continuing to build for next Saturday's blockbuster showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State.

  4. Plan a fall vacation at Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens when crowds are light

    Florida

    Now that the busy summer vacation season is ending, Floridians can come out to play.

    Maria Reyna, 8, of Corpus Cristi, TX. eats chicken at the Lotus Blossom Cafe at the Chinese pavilion at Epcot in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017.  Epcot is celebrating it's 35th year as the upcoming Food and Wine Festival kicks off once again.
  5. USF spends $1.5 million to address growing demand for student counseling

    College

    TAMPA — As Florida's universities stare down a mental health epidemic, the University of South Florida has crafted a plan it hopes will reach all students, from the one in crisis to the one who doesn't know he could use some help.

    A student crosses the University of South Florida campus in Tampa, where visits to the school's crisis center more than doubled last year, part of a spike in demand that has affected colleges across the country. The university is addressing the issue this year with $1.5 million for more "wellness coaches," counselors, online programs and staff training. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]