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Mosquito district adopts bigger budget, increases financial transparency

  • Erik Hawk, assistant manager with the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District, wades into acres of invasive Ludwigia in search of mosquito larvae in the Laguna de Santa Rosa in 2011. (PD FILE, 2011)

The board of the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District voted to approve its $8.6 million budget Wednesday night, and also discussed ways to improve accountability and transparency about the district's spending.

The budget for the financial year that began July 1 provides for a 12 percent increase over what it budgeted last year.

The board also adopted a policy that the executive committee would review the accounts payable, expenditures, revenues and correspondence of the district four times a year.

“The public wants to know that their money is properly spent and well spent, and personally I'm not comfortable without more. I think we should be digging down deeper,” said Paul Libeu, a board member who represents Rohnert Park and who introduced the proposal. “The committee ought to be able to say this is a real expense, it's part of our policy, and it's not a misuse of public money.”

The district also discussed a proposal by Sebastopol Mayor Guy Wilson to hire an attorney to be present at board meetings to provide advice on how to handle issues like financial disclosure and awarding contracts.

“I think it's a very important, so we know how to run a meeting and how to notice a meeting,” said board member Ed Schulze, who represents Marin County.

Board member William Ring said he wanted documentation on what information the district needs to post, and in what forms and where. The board agreed to consider the proposal at a future meeting.

Frank Egger, who represents Fairfax, questioned why the district is planning to spend $30,000 on a public relations firm, $70,000 for a new research foundation, $25,000 on new manager relocation costs and $240,000 on new trucks.

“I'm not sure what our policy is on replacing vehicles. Is it 100,000 miles? 200,000?” Egger asked.

General Manager Jim Wanderscheid said the staff examines any of the district's 40 vehicles that have logged over 100,000 miles for safety, and then sells the vehicles being replaced at auction.

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