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Options could return mosquito spraying to Brooksville

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Published:   |   Updated: April 20, 2014 at 12:40 PM

- Hernando County has not sprayed for mosquitoes in this city for the past month because officials said Brooksville has not abided by an agreement to provide the service and has not paid its bill.

City officials maintain they are not delinquent on anything because the agreement was not finalized.

The result: With the insect breeding season beginning with the onset of summer rains, the county has not sent its mosquito control trucks into the city for more than a month.

At Tuesday's county commission meeting, County Administrator Len Sossamon will present two options to commissioners that could resolve the standoff. But it would mean tweaking the taxing system now used to pay for mosquito control.

The first option would remove the cap on the Municipal Service Taxing Unit for mosquito control so the funding would come from the millage rate with no need to be subsidized by the general fund, as it is now.

The city of Brooksville then would have to re-instate its ordinance to opt into the MSTU. Failure to do so would mean no mosquito control service within the city limits.

The second option would discontinue the MSTU for mosquito control or set the millage rate to zero.

The county then would fund mosquito control through the general fund and increase the general fund millage by at least .1 mills. There would be no need for city officials to reinstate the ordinance or to sign an interlocal agreement with this option. City taxpayers would pay their share for mosquito control service through this increase in the general fund millage.

A mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 in taxable property value.

In March, Hernando County stopped providing mosquito control service in Brooksville until the city pays its $15,214 bill.

City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha has maintained the city is not obligated to pay because both municipalities could not reach agreement on an interlocal agreement by the agreed-to date of July 1. At that point it became null and void, she said.

Voters in November 2012 overwhelmingly approved a nonbinding referendum allowing the county to create the MSTU for mosquito control, setting a cap of one-tenth of a mill starting in fiscal year 2013.

County Commissioner Dave Russell said citizens want the county to provide mosquito control and are receptive to any financial method used to do so - either by an MSTU or by taking money from the general fund.

"I want to hear both sides (Tuesday) before making a decision," Russell said.

The county commission meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Hernando County Government Center, 20 N. Main St. in downtown Brooksville.

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Also on Tuesday's agenda:

??Douglas Leonardo, executive director of Baycare Behavioral Health, will give a presentation on mental health needs in Hernando County.

??County attorney Garth Coller will discuss an ordinance amending the boundaries of the Hernando Beach Volunteer Fire Department's taxing unit.

??Kenneth Wicker, chief executive officer with Bayfront Health-Brooksville, will give a state of the hospital report to the board.

To view the entire agenda and see staff reports, visit http://hernandocountyfl .iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail _Meeting.aspx?ID=1440.

mbates@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5290

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