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|OPPJ agrees on $1,000 expenditure for mosquito abatement campaign|
The Ouachita Parish Police Jury agreed to provide $1,000 to the Mosquito Abatement District for it to conduct a public awareness campaign on the needs of mosquito control.
The police jury will provide the funding subject to the cities of Monroe and West Monroe also approving $1,000 for the campaign.
Mosquito Abatement District director Dr. Cole Church said Mayor Dave Norris suggested the district ask all three entities for financial support.
With the funding, the district could run a advertisements through local media during April, May and June about what can be done by the public to reduce mosquito bites during the peak West Nile virus season.
"I think this is an area I haven't done a good job in during the last three years, but I just don't have the money to drop into a public awareness campaign this year without the support of the cities and the police jury," Church said.
Police jury president Walt Caldwell said, "There has been some speculation, particularly The News-Star, that you have sufficient funds."
Church says the district has $1.2 million. The funding, he said, is strictly used for mosquito abatement operations such as ground and aerial spraying.
On Saturday, voters will decide on a proposed 10-year, 1.99 mills property tax, which would generate $1.4 million annually. The tax would allow the district to continue mosquito abatement efforts for another decade.
The current 1.17 millage is set to expire this year.
The district has maintained a balanced budget for the past four years under Church's leadership, but he says budget restraints will increase for the district if the funding matter is not addressed now.
Insecticides make up one-third of the districts budget, and chemicals continue to increase in price. Also, the district's vehicles and equipment need to be maintained, and the 1.17 mills do not provide enough funding for repairs.