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Monday, Mar 02, 2015

Brooksville residents feeling stung by mosquito spraying dispute


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— Kara Hazivasilis said she’s been cutting visits to city parks short these days because of an increase in mosquitoes.

And now that the county will not be spraying for the insects — at least until a dispute with the city is settled — the mother of four is worried about spending much time outside at all.

“I think it’s a health concern,” she said.

Alirio Darocha said it’s imperative the dispute end and spraying start up soon.

“We have to survive,” Darocha said. “They have to spray.”

Darocha said he plans to stock up on mosquito spray and insecticides in case the dispute is prolonged. He doesn’t want to contract mosquito-borne illnesses.

“The mosquitoes are going to kill people,” he said. “They kill.”

The summer rains have begun, which means mosquitoes are coming out in force. The state has issued an advisory for people to take care when outside because some of the blood-suckers carry dangerous diseases.

Yet the county’s spray trucks are stopping at Brooksville’s city limits because of a dispute in the taxing method. The mosquito trucks stopped rolling into Brooksville in March.

Corey Jackson, assistant manager at the Brooksville Lowe’s, said staff has a mosquito kiosk prominently displayed when people enter the store.

“That’s an important item and high demand this time of year,” Jackson said.

And Anthony Angilella, a Lowe’s department manager in charge of the mosquito items, said the products are “starting to move.”

If used properly, he said the products will work in place of the malathion used by professional mosquito applicators. But, he added, “nothing’s full-proof against mosquitoes.”

Expect more people getting stung if the mosquito trucks stop coming into the city, he said.

“If they don’t do something, it will be bad,” he said.

Two years ago, county residents voted on a referendum to pay for mosquito control services through a tax placed on their annual property tax bills, supplemented by general fund revenue. Had county commissioners decided to fund mosquito control solely through the general fund, the city of Brooksville would have been covered.

But commissioners chose to fund Brooksville’s mosquito control through a Municipal Services Taxing Unit, which meant Brooksville would have to opt into the unit to get the service. City officials agreed to do so but withdrew because both municipalities did not have a signed agreement to provide mosquito control by an agreed-to date of July 1, 2013, according to Brooksville City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha.

Brooksville covers 10 square miles and is home to 7,500 residents and one way or another, those residents will receive protection from mosquitoes, even if the city ends up paying for it, Norman-Vacha said recently.

While the dispute plays out in the government board rooms, it is the residents who have to deal with the consequences.

“In the afternoon, about 3-4 p.m., I have a hard time going outside,” said Taylor Austin.

Brooksville resident Tammy Fulton said she’s removing all sources of standing water from her home to help remove insect breeding areas.

“You can only do so much,” Fulton said. “You can take care of your own yard but what about your neighbor’s yard?”

Her husband, John Fulton has an idea for the city:

“Tell them to use some of that red-light money and put it in use for the mosquito fund,” he joked.

(352) 544-5290

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