BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A 1.23 mill property tax to support a public agency that handles mosquito control in East Baton Route Parish is on the ballot for renewal in the Nov. 6 election.
The tax millage for East Baton Rouge Parish Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control would cost the owner of a $100,000 home that qualifies for homestead exemption $3.08, while someone with a home valued at $200,000 would pay $15.38.
Although authorized to collect up to 1.23 mills, MARC Director Todd Walker tells The Advocate (http://bit.ly/WLAThK ) the agency currently collects only 1.15 mills of that tax and its governing board voted to set the tax rate at 1.12 mills for 2013.
The tax at the 1.23 mill rate would raise approximately $4.9 million a year for the next 10 years.
Randy Vaeth, the program's assistant director, said the main concern is to keep an operating fund that will allow the department to respond effectively to emergencies. Those include the threats posed by emerging mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue virus and rift valley fever, he said.
"Our climate is such we have the mosquitoes here that can carry them," Vaeth said about diseases that may not be currently seen in Louisiana, but could become a problem in the future.
Vaeth noted that the agency doesn't get any general fund money from the city-parish for its operations.
When the first West Nile Virus outbreak occurred in 2002 in Louisiana, Vaeth noted, the department needed money and resources to address that threat.
Although "sentinel chickens" were set out in the parish to become infected so they could be tested for St. Louis Encephalitis, that process didn't work for West Nile Virus, Vaeth said. There were already human cases by the time West Nile Virus showed up in the chickens, he said.
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com