By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Havre-area residents seeking relief from mosquitoes will have to wait until 2005.
Funding for the proposed mosquito district wouldn't become available until November 2004, meaning pesticide applications would not begin until the following summer, the Hill County Commission said Tuesday.
A planning committee for the district said it may try to speed up the project by raising donations during a petition-signing campaign.
The planned mosquito district would cover an area that extends eight miles west of Havre, six miles north, five miles south, and east to the Blaine County line. The district would use small insecticide pellets placed in standing water to kill mosquito larvae, reducing pest populations.
During Tuesday's meeting, county officials and a group of citizens went over the lengthy and complicated process for establishing the district.
County weed coordinator Terry Turner said the district is still in the planning stages, but that a tentative time line for the project has been established.
Before the district can be created, organizers need to collect the signatures of 25 percent of the 6,600 registered voters in the proposed area. A petition will be unveiled next week and the planning committee hopes to collect the necessary signatures by mid-June.
Once the signatures are collected, the County Commission will host a public meeting to take comments about the proposed district. The commission must notify all nonresident property owners within the district about the meeting.
Because the district does not cover the entire county, county tax dollars cannot be used to notify the nonresident owners, Commission Chairman Pat Conway said.
"Then we'd have people in Inverness paying for a service that doesn't apply to them," he said.
That means that the planning committee will be stuck with the bill for buying envelopes and postage to notify what is likely hundreds of nonresident owners, Commissioner Doug Kaercher said.
"You are going to have to generate a reasonable number of dollars to make this happen," Kaercher told the committee.
After the public meeting is held, the commission will decide whether to form the mosquito district and, if it does, appoint a board to oversee it. Conway said the commission supports the district and plans to approve it.
The next step in the process is to acquire funding for the district, which must be approved by voters. A measure to incur an annual $25 property fee to fund the district would appear on the November ballot.
Because the proposed district extends beyond city limits but does not cover the entire county, special ballots will have to be created. The funding measure will require a simple majority to pass.
The money would be collected the following November, and used during the summer of 2005, the commissioners said. The fee would raise a little more than $100,000 annually for the district.
The committee discussed soliciting donations while campaigning for signatures. Volunteers going door to door may ask people to contribute a dollar or two to support the district until funding becomes available in 2004.
Working on the committee are Terry Lilletvedt and Rick and Pam Harada.
Pam Harada said she has wanted to see mosquito control established in the Havre area for a number of years.
"It seems very sad to me that we live in this wonderful community and you can't even go outside in the summer," she said. "We've put up with it for years and it's made everyone miserable."
Harada said that mosquitoes pose a health risk and have a negative effect on tourism.