LEE COUNTY, Fla.- $21 million a year in taxpayer dollars is budgeted to keep Lee County's pesky population of mosquitoes under control.
State Representative Paige Kreegel (R-Punta Gorda) thinks that's too much.
He compared Lee County Mosquito Control District to neighboring Charlotte County's $1.8 million budget or Palm Beach County, which is of comparable size to Lee, but operates on $1.9 million a year.
"It's just an unbelievable outlier. They're so far out of the bounds of counties that do it with Public Works that it can't just be explained away," Rep. Kreegel said Monday.
Kreegel is proposing voters decide in a referendum whether to nix Lee County Mosquito Control District altogether and to allow the county's Public Works Department take over the service on a more meager budget.
"You just can't treat some of the rural communities only with the trucks. It takes the aircraft to do that. And whenever you deal with aircraft it is more expensive," Shelly Redovan of Lee County Mosquito Control District said Monday.
The District says its bloated budget is because of it covers the most ground in the state aside from the Everglades: 56,000 acres of salt marsh habitat, which is prime breeding ground for menacing mosquitoes.
"We can't do this job for less than where we are now. To do anything less is going to mean a dramatic reduction in service," Redovan said.
Representative Kreegel plans to introduce the bill into the Legislature next year. If it's passed, voters will decide whether mosquito service should be turned over to the county's Public Works Department.