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June 11, 2014- Our View "Spraying funding remains in limbo"

Mosquito abatement will likely be presented to Okanogan Valley voters in a future taxing district ballot measure

If you’ve been swatting and cursing mosquitoes for the past couple weeks, you’re not alone. Now that the Okanogan River is dropping, the mass invasion of mosquitoes has begun.

In between swatting, folks are asking when the cities plan to spray for the little buggers.

But, in some cases, it won’t be when, but if.

Okanogan plans to apply ground-based spray next Monday, weather permitting. For it to be effective, residents will have to refrain from watering their yards for at least 24 hours. They are also encouraged to put away pet food and water, and keep pets indoors.

Okanogan is contracting with Conconully, which owns a truck-based mosquito spraying system.

Omak, on the other hand, does not have plans to spray. City officials say the money just isn’t there.

A decision on funding is, so to speak, so much water under the bridge. The time for city residents to have insisted on mosquito spray funding was last November and December, as city officials were crafting the 2014 budget.

On the long-term front, a group of volunteers has been meeting for the past year-and-a-half to come up with parameters for a mosquito control district.

Right now, they’re fine-tuning the boundaries. Under the current proposal, Oroville, Tonasket, Riverside, Omak and Okanogan would be included, as would high-mosquito unincorporated areas surrounding those cities.

The next step would be to present the proposed boundaries to Okanogan County commissioners, who would have a hearing and decide on final district boundaries and whether to put the matter before affected voters.

Formation requires a simple majority; a levy for funding the district requires a 60 percent yes vote.

If the election were held today, we suspect there would be no question of whether a district would be formed and funded.

The wheels of government sometimes move slowly, but those of us who are slapping mosquitoes hope they don’t grind to a halt.

When a measure is finally presented to voters, we hope they won’t have forgotten what mosquito season is like in the same way they stay away from budget discussions in droves and then complain, six months later, that there’s no funding for mosquito spraying.

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