Mosquito larvae breeds in the swimming pool of a foreclosed home in Hollister.

After delaying approval of rates for San Benito County’s mosquito abatement district assessment fee July 9, supervisors approved an 8.1 percent increase to bring the assessment to $10.90 per parcel.
Supervisors had delayed a vote on the matter July 9 after a resident raised concerns that supervisors were increasing the rate by more than 3 percent in one year as allowed in the ordinance to adjust for the consumer price index. Agricultural Commissioner Ron Ross had said consultants who put together the engineering report to review the cost of running the abatement program said if the CPI increase had not been taken in previous years it can be banked and used all at once. Supervisors delayed the vote to allow county counsel to get an outside opinion on the issue.
County Counsel Matthew Granger at Tuesday’s meeting shared an opinion from an outside law firm that said assessments approved under the guidelines of state Proposition 218 does allow the county to increase the rates by more than 3 percent in a single year if the increase has been banked from previous years. The county last approved a rate increase in 2009-10.
“It’s appropriate if the county has not used it,” Granger said.
Ross explained again as he had during an earlier public hearing that the mosquito abatement program is in need of replacing equipment that was originally purchased through state grant money at the onset of the program.
A consultant with SCI Consultants, who put together the annual report showed a graphic that showed the maximum rate increases allowed since 2007-08 with the actual assessments in San Benito County. John Bliss, the consultant, said in the 30 to 40 districts with which his firm works, most match the actual assessments to the maximum rate increase allowed.
“You have a little more conservative approach here,” Bliss said.
Bliss and Ross stressed the need to replace equipment for the necessary increase as well as the need for reserves in case the county needs to combat an emerging vector, such as a mosquito that carries yellow fever that has been found in Madera County.
Based on the consumer price index, supervisors could increase the annual assessment per parcel in the district as high as $11.15. Ross was recommending an increase of 8.1 percent to $10.90 per parcel.
“If you do 3 percent over the next three years would it be getting to the same place?” asked Supervisor Jerry Muenzer.
Ross said if they increased the rate by 3 percent this year, it would be up to three years before enough money is collected to replace equipment.
Supervisor Jaime De La Cruz suggested the supervisors look at doing up to a 3 percent increase each year in future years instead of banking the increases and doing a higher increase in subsequent years.
“I don’t know if flat lines are the best way to go,” De La Cruz said.
Muenzer made a motion to approve a 3 percent increase in the assessment, which died for a lack of a second. Supervisor Margie Barrios then followed with a motion to approve the 8.1 percent increase, which was approved by a 4-1 vote with Muenzer voting against it.

Previous articleSupervisors have legal concerns over marijuana initiatives
Next articleHot rods on a hot day at Street Festival
A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here