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Commissioners decide not to abolish mosquito boar

The Pasco Mosquito Control Board lives.

County commissioners previously had questioned the board's value and asked the county staff to research ways to abolish it.

On Tuesday, though, commissioners agreed not to scrap the mosquito board, deciding that the estimated $160,000 in annual taxpayer savings wasn't enough to justify the move.

Commissioners also had received a petition with nearly 200 signatures supporting the board, which was created in 1951 to oversee Pasco's mosquito control efforts.

"I personally believe that the Mosquito Control District has been doing a good job," Commissioner Sylvia Young said. "I think we need to leave well enough alone."

That was hardly the sentiment among a majority of commissioners a few months ago.

County commissioners grew frustrated last year when elections officials were inundated with 21 candidates running for three seats on the mosquito board, whose $1.9-million budget is funded by tax dollars.

The race attracted more candidates than all the other elections combined, and it produced the only elections protests.

Some commissioners also had questioned whether board members were properly accountable and whether the $400 monthly pay was excessive.

"That's more money than council members in Port Richey and New Port Richey make," Commissioner Ann Hildebrand said in November.

Commissioner Ed Collins proposed last month that the current board be replaced by a volunteer board. "My major concern is that they are being paid a lot . . . for meeting once a month," Collins had said. "The current Mosquito Control Board doesn't answer to anybody."

Based on their concerns, commissioners asked county staff to research ways to abolish the board and have the county take over the functions of the mosquito district.

At the county's request, County Administrator John Gallagher met with mosquito district staff and reviewed the board's budget.

The district would save about $160,000 annually if the county took over its functions, Gallagher said. The savings would mostly come from eliminating mosquito commissioners' salaries and costs for health benefits and insurance.

But that did not sway county commissioners Tuesday.

Collins, who previously advocated scrapping the board as a way to save tax dollars, called those potential savings "negligible."

Young said converting the mosquito district into a county department would only became a headache for the county.

That the mosquito board attracted many candidates last year was part of the democratic process, she said.

"There's always room for another name on the ballot," she said.

County Commission Chairman David "Hap" Clark agreed.

"I think we're all pleased," Mosquito Control Board Chairwoman Sandra Applefield said after the vote. "We're delighted."

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