The DuPage County Mosquito Abatement Task Force is looking for ways to provide uniform, comprehensive coverage to fight mosquitoes in all corners of the county.
“We’re going to have to find a level of best practice,” DuPage Board of Health President Linda Kurzawa said Monday.
Kurzawa was speaking to the task force that was created last year in an attempt to respond to the rising incidents of West Nile virus that in 2012 accounted for five DuPage County deaths and 56 other reported cases.
Within DuPage County, 45 different taxing bodies, including municipal governments, townships and mosquito abatement districts, expend a considerable amount of revenue fighting airborne pests of all types, task force members said.
Of those bodies, 31 took part in a survey conducted by the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference and reported that they had spent a total of $2.6 million last year just for mosquito abatement.
The task force is basing its proposed guidelines for fighting mosquitoes in the county on those from the national Center for Disease Control.
The first priority of what the task force refers to as “corner to corner” coverage is mandating surveillance of breeding sites and sharing information with other DuPage entities tasked with mosquito control.
Second, each body would commit to a certain level of “larvacide,” or killing the pests before they hatch into disease-carrying mosquitoes.
Also recommended is a level of adult mosquito control, with an emphasis on having the funds available for three separate sprayings per year.
Arranging a uniform, county-wide system of mosquito abatement is proving to be a formidable undertaking. Only about 67 percent of DuPage residents now are provided with what the task force determines is “premium” mosquito abatement service.
Although most municipalities border some part of the Forest Preserve District, the county does vary in topography and population density, ranging from higher-populated areas in the east to more open space in the West, meaning costs can vary widely in each town when it comes to fighting mosquitoes.
Then there are the legal issues that can result when taxing bodies seek to change basic services. Contracts between municipalities and vendors might be affected and employment issues could arise, task force members said.
Moreover, some entities might not even be interested in stepping up their services, as evidenced by 14 of them not participating in the DuPage survey.
Consolidating mosquito abatement services into the hands of the nine DuPage townships was originally the working idea of the task force. Bloomingdale Township revamped its services several years ago and realized a savings of $150,000 over the first three years of the program.
Howver, task force members said that the same conflicts that plague other moves to consolidate services have made the township propoosal unworkable.
Still, task force membrs said they are committed to giving all DuPage residents comprehensive mosquito abatement service. The group is putting together a pilot program that it hopes will eventually prove a viable model for the entire county.
Part of the program will include shared purchasing from a single vendor, which officials say will help local entities control costs through economies of scale.
Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully stressed the cost savings as a way of convincing municipalities to cooperate with each other.
“Clearly there is a high level of public interest,” he said, stressing that it should be demonstrated to local entities that their towns might get better service for lower prices, and not have to raise taxes.
Alan Bolds, of the Wheaton Mosquito Abatement District, stressed the responsibility of government toward citizens.
“Every government in DuPage County has a moral imperative to protect the public from disease,” he said.
Since the task force wants the pilot program to be in place for spring 2015, time is critical.
“We need to start almost immediately to start this process,” Health Department Executive Director Karen Ayala said.Tags: DuPage, DuPage Board, DuPage County, DuPage County Mosquito Abatement Task Force, DuPage health, health, mosquitos