Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 5, 2004
still wants a swat at abatement program
By JESSICA WALDON
The Natchez Democrat
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Just because the millage on Saturday’s ballot failed does not mean the Mosquito Abatement District No. 1 is giving up hopes of creating a parishwide mosquito abatement program.
While it may take another year to get another tax, such as a meter tax, on the ballot, president of the board, Betty Faulkenberry said the board is going to work to find another way to start the program.
Unfortunately, most grants are for programs already in existence and require matching funds, funds the mosquito district does not have.
&uot;We can’t give up, mosquitoes are an ongoing problem,&uot; Faulkenberry said.
She said the board will seek help from the LSU Ag Center and health and human services on other options to fund the program.
Faulkenberry said without grants, which they will try to obtain, another option is a meter tax because both Ferriday and Vidalia are maxed out on sales taxes. The board does not want to try another property tax, although those are the most stable, she said.
There is &uot;no way to get money without taxation,&uot; Faulkenberry said, adding she was &uot;real surprised it didn’t pass.&uot;
Melvin Ferrington, police jury president, said he was against a millage from the beginning because it is not a tax everyone pays for, only property owners. But he and the rest of the jury will support the board with any solutions they come up with to start the program.
&uot;The people, they weren’t against the abatement program, they were against the way it was being funded,&uot; Ferrington said, after talking to many parish residents throughout the past months.
&uot;Everyone knows we need some kind of mosquito abatement program in place.&uot;
Morris White, director of emergency preparedness in the parish who helped form the program, said the board gave people the choice.
&uot;We think maybe the people didn’t want another tax right now,&uot; White said.
Faulkenberry said people might have become complacent because last year there was so little rain during the summer months and the mosquitoes were not as heavy. However, with the mild winter this year, the mosquitoes already are out. In fact, Faulkenberry said there have been a few birds sent to LSU for West Nile Virus testing in the parish this year.
Ouachita Parish already had two positive birds for West Nile virus in March and East Baton Rouge Parish had one at the end of February.
While Vidalia’s town council openly opposed the parishwide program because they already have a program, Faulkenberry said Ferriday’s grant has run out for mosquito abatement and to continue the program, the town will have to pull money from the general fund.