No budget blues at Marin/Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District

In an era of government layoffs and painful budget cuts, the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District plans to increase spending by about 6 percent this year.

The board will vote on the proposed spending plan Wednesday night.

The majority of the $8.6 million budget will go toward employee salaries and benefits, which will be increased, along with other chunks to be spent on solar panels, new computers and trucks.

Precisely how the spending is changing at the district is difficult to pin down because it has issued four different proposed budget documents in the past month, and board members and the press were given different versions to review. Also, the dollar amounts listed for how much was budgeted and spent in an "approved final budget" for the year that ended June 30 have been changed in the various versions.

Board members delayed voting on the 2011-12 budget at their June meeting after several complained they weren't given enough information. Now, though, several said they were confident they would have enough information at Wednesday's meeting to vote.

"I think it's quite an interesting situation that we didn't get as much information as we usually do. It seemed like there was some miscommunication," said Tamara Davis, who represents Sonoma County on the board. "And typically we find that the manager keeps us well informed and gives us lots of information beyond what we're needing."

Jim Wanderscheid, the general manager who's responsible for the budget, said he prepared a brief budget document for the June meeting because that's what the budget committee directed him to do.

"It was just a miscommunication," he said. "There's no conspiracy to hide anything."

Wanderscheid also said he had not wanted to release a full, line-item budget before it was approved by the board because the working documents would contain numbers that would change, and that would confuse the public.

The budget proposal dated June 29 calls for $8.6 million in spending, a 6 percent increase over last year. The proposal calls for spending $1.3 million more than the district expects to receive in revenues.

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