Concern about controlling the possible spread of disease to humans from mosquitoes and other possible animals, such as vermin, is a low concern to most of the unincorporated areas in Riverside County.
During June, the county Department of Environmental Health held a ballot measure, pursuant to Proposition 218, seeking approval for a proposed assessment on property tax payments to continue a mosquito and vector control program.
The total cost of the assessment would have been about $485,000. The parcel assessment in three areas within the county that it would have served ranged from $1.02 in Zone C, $2.04 in Zone B and $7.14 in Zone A, which included Idyllwild and Pine Cove.
In Zone A, nearly 15,000 ballots were cast and 7,903 opposed the assessment while 7,147 voted “yes.” Based on the assessed value of the property, nearly 57 percent cast “No” ballots.
Zone B voting was similar to A, however, Zone C property owners supported the assessment. Of the 200 ballots cast, 125 voted “Yes” and that represented 51.6 percent based on the property assessment.
Only 18,429 ballots were returned, which is less than a quarter of the eligible 77,500 ballots mailed.
A public hearing on the assessment was held July 7. At the Board of Supervisor’s July 21 meeting, the DEH asked to defer the issue until the board’s Aug. 18 meeting.
Funding for the program has come through the county’s general funds, but has been reduced in the past few years, which is why a special assessment was sought. How the program may continue is unknown after the results of the ballot measure.
“We won’t know of any alternative funding sources that the board might offer until the Aug. 18th meeting,” said Dottie Merki, DEH program chief.
Riverside County has two independent control districts — Northwest Mosquito and Vector Control and the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control districts. Both are funded from assessments on property within the districts.
With the recent storms, there is plenty of standing water throughout Riverside County and health officials are urging residents to empty outdoor containers that may have inadvertently filled with rain to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne illness.