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posted: 5/18/2013 8:00 AM

DuPage panel considers strategies to control mosquitoes

Task force weighs whether abatement can be consolidated

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  • A task force is working to develop new strategies to control the mosquito population in DuPage County. One suggestion could be to have townships oversee the effort.

    A task force is working to develop new strategies to control the mosquito population in DuPage County. One suggestion could be to have townships oversee the effort.
    Daily Herald file photo


DuPage County's nine townships could play key roles in a push to combat mosquito populations on a countywide level.

A mosquito abatement task force is working to develop strategies to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses, such as West Nile virus.

One of the issues the panel reviewed Friday is whether abatement services could be consolidated. Right now, there are 45 different municipalities, townships and service districts targeting the bugs in DuPage.

Task force members mulled the possibility of having the nine townships oversee all of DuPage's control efforts while following a common abatement strategy.

"It's a huge step if we can agree on, for a public health purpose, a best-practice policy," said Linda Kurzawa, president of the DuPage County Board of Health. She also serves on the task force.

There's already one example of a township in DuPage handling mosquito control within it boundaries.

Bloomingdale Township, which previously tackled mosquitoes only in unincorporated areas, in 1999 expanded its program to include all of Bloomingdale and parts of Addison, Carol Stream, Glendale Heights, Hanover Park, Itasca and Roselle.

"Mosquitoes don't realize there are borders," Bloomingdale Township Supervisor Ed Levato said to fellow task force members. "They just go wherever they feel like going."

"We realized that in order for us for have better (mosquito) control in our community, we needed to have a regional approach," Levato said.

Municipalities help Bloomingdale Township pay for the mosquito control. But Levato said the larger scope of work made it possible for the township to negotiate better deals with Clarke, the Roselle-based company hired to reduce the mosquito population.

For example, the annual cost of the contract was reduced by about $125,000 -- to $475,000 -- in 2010 without significant changes to the level of service, officials said.

There are, however, some obstacles to having a countywide effort overseen by the townships.

For starters, other local governments must be willing to turn over their abatement responsibilities. There are also questions about funding.

Before Bloomingdale Township expanded its abatement program, it found money in its budget to pay for the effort.

Levato said state law might need to be changed to allow townships to collect property tax dollars for mosquito control.

There was some discussion about whether the county could collect property tax dollars for mosquito abatement and then disperse it geographically, but voters would have to support that idea.

Several task members expressed doubt about whether a countywide ballot question on mosquito control could win approval.

"They (voters) are not going to care in April or November," Winfield Township Supervisor Dona Smith said. "If we had the election in July or August, possibly."

One suggestion is to have a test program in another township. Whether the township idea is part of the task force's final list of recommendations remains to be seen.

The panel -- which includes representatives from municipalities, townships, the county and mosquito abatement districts -- is expected to make its recommendations to the health board and the county next month. The report will touch on a variety of issues, including a proposed public health education campaign.

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