Mosquito Abatement Tax Attempt - Spring, 2008

That's quite some mosquitofish delivery system you have - pizza guys could learn from you

East Bay Pesticide Alert's clarifications and questions in italics.

Oakland Tribune 2/24/08

Pests fuel tax increase initiative (Well, yes, if you, like we, call pesticide pushers the true pests with which we need to be dealing)

Rate may jump from $1.74 to $5.00 for single-family homes

By Karen Holzmeister

Got an itch to vote? (What? You give us options off some list you created, Mosquito Abatement?)

Don't want to wait until the June primary comes buzzing around?

Relief is on the way. (Sorry, but you're giving us no relief; extra stress is about all that can be attributed to you for this newest tax try, Mosquito Abatement)

A March ballot measure will ask Alameda County voters to raise an Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District special tax. (Well, no. It allows only property owners to vote. Do you trust your landlord? What about the fact that mobile home owners who rent their spaces have been refused a vote, though they own their own homes? According to the 2000 census, that’s 63,100 households with no vote. According to the American Community Survey Profile of 2003 (U.S. Census Bureau), out of 518,000 occupied housing units, 57% were owner-occupied; 43% were renter-occupied. We are gathered here to agree: renters’ voices don’t mean a thing. But now and then we think of those people boondocking in motor homes. But since they probably don’t have koi ponds, they won’t be needing mosquitofish. Why bother with more forms to fill out? But what about the fact that all the other residents, whether renters; homeless; on temporary visas; tourists; wanderers; babies; toddlers; children; teens; imprisoned; in hospitals incapacitated; in so-called "mental institutions" are all denied a vote either legally, or by means of no real access to a way to vote?)

The Hayward-based agency and its 13 employees seek and eliminate mosquitoes from breeding sites. (Sorry to slam another 'no' your way; mosquitoes are not eradicable. See our West Nile Section of our site for documentation of that oh-so-basic fact. Our old line: Do They Think We're Dumb?)

They test and monitor for diseases carried by mosquitoes, including West Nile Virus. (dum duh duh dum... read up on on our site, to catch the facts about WNV before you get all worked up about it and make some toxic move)

"One time, we found 9,000 mosquitoes in a trap in (Fremont's) Coyote Hills," recalled District Manager John Rusmisel. (Forgive us if we are mistaken, but wouldn't we expect to find considerable mosquito populations near such a body of water as we find there? What in the environment would be missing if those mosquitoes actually were able to be eradicated? How many environmental disasters have been created by unnaturally creating imbalance in an environment in which balance is created over time, as part of a web of interactions between species?)

Workers respond to service calls in all of the county's cities and unincorporated areas, with the exception of Albany.

The small city on the county's northern border never has joined the independent special district, created in 1930 to combat mosquitoes.

"We go there sometimes, if we are going to Berkeley and people (in Albany) want mosquitofish for their ponds," Rusmisel said. "I guess the Albany mosquitoes can fly into Berkeley." (We're glad you are charitable. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts)

Emeryville makes the most service calls for mosquito problems. Berkeley, like Piedmont and Livermore, make the most requests for mosquitofish to eliminate mosquito larvae. Livermore and Pleasanton have the most requests for swimming pool inspections. (Okay, okay... we get it. You really are only a glorified mosquitofish delivery service. We give in: the delivery people's costumes are good, and their dispositions generally are pleasant. What about that guy, though, who works for you who told us that he works all day, every day of the year, spraying pesticides for the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District? Doesn't square with the cozy image you're planting here. But we were impressed with his dedication)

It's been a quarter-century since voters approved the current tax. (Is it possible that voters aren't really so fond of poisons being poured, sprayed, spritzed, drenched or sprinkled in their midst?)

Single-family home owners, as an example, now pay $1.74 a year. (Perhaps some raw numbers about what's coming in from various sources, including the state and feds would be more useful here)

The single-family home tax will increase to a maximum of $5 if the mail ballot passes. (Hmm, something like a tripling of funds from this source. We wonder whether it makes sense to give them about 3 x as much to perpetuate the use of toxic pesticides which can kill people, pets, destroy wild habitats, threaten native species. But we admit: sometimes we just don't get it. We hang onto our nagging obsession with people's right to retain, or obtain, health. Go figure)

The special tax, in varying amounts, also applies to other types of residential properties, commercial and industrial parcels, and agricultural land.

Assessments on all properties now raise nearly $800,000 a year. Voter approval for the special tax would increase this amount to $2.1 million. (Well, at least some of us would get to vote to poison ourselves or get our friends poisoned. Cool)

Total district revenue was $2.4 million in the 2007 budget year ending last June. (Dang! Broke, man. Those mosquitofish sure must cost a lot. Maybe the county should be hiring Petco to breed more for us all)

Property taxes make up about half of the district income, followed by the nearly $800,000 raised by the special tax. (Now, how many mosquitofish was that per dollar?)

The district assessed lower rates in the years immediately following the special tax's approval in 1982. The rate has increased to the maximum amount -- such as the $1.74 for single-family homes -- to cover West Nile Virus costs and mandated district tax shifts to state education programs. (Last we heard, meeting with the MAD board, the Alameda County MAD was receiving special funds from higher powers to be used ONLY for pesticide applications. Maybe we all can do our patriotic part by starting mosquitofish breeding stations in our family bathtubs. Science experiments sure to delight the kids... see? Look Ma! MAD is contributing to a state education program! Perhaps we should refer MAD to one of those AA groups: first they might admit they have a problem; next, they might start apologizing for their addictively grabbing after the toxics that landed them in mosquito resistance heaven; then they might learn how to detox; and finally they might leave us alone and build bright, non-toxic futures)

Facts about mosquito tax:

What to expect: Ballots will be mailed March 14th to owners of 428,000 properties in Alameda County. Stamped return envelopes will be included. Ballots are due April 30. Election results will be announced May 14. A majority vote is needed for passage.

-The current tax raises $800,000 a year. (Might we know how many mosquitofish you will buy with this $800,000?)

-The increase would raise about $2.1 million a year. (Glad to know that in our tanking economy one bureaucracy will be well-tended)

Some proposed yearly assessments:

-Single-family homes: $5 (These home owners will pay more because they care about mosquitofish an awful lot. Our sources tell us this is a favorite topic around the dinner table at these single-family homes)

-Condominiums: $3 (Because we know that condo owners really don't care all that much about mosquitoes, so we'll take less of their hard-earned bucks. Our sources tell us they tend to be all wrapped up with their HOA meetings about matching doormats)

-Multi-family residential over five units: $1.60 per unit up to 20 units, and 50 cents for each additional unit (Is this bargain basement rate a testament to MAD realizing that renters could care less about those mosquitofish? On the other hand, our sources tell us they do like the idea of creating home fisheries. Mosquitofish might not eradicate mosquitoes, but maybe they can cure hunger)

-Office: $7.10 per one-fourth acre for first five acres, then $7.10 per acre (Ah, but these business people will be coughing it up. Man, they have soul)

-Commercial-industrial: $2.50 per one-fourth acre for first five acres, then $2.50 per acre (The developers. These gals and guys impress us to no end with their business acumen and environmental astuteness: Hey, we can cover marshes and a bunch of birds will die so they won't need the mosquitoes so then when there are fewer mosquitoes since they're not needed we can get out of paying our fair share per acre to MAD! We like it)

-Vacant lots: $1.25 (Well, we all KNOW that mosquitoes never hang around or breed on empty lots... because invariably they are owned by those smart developers who have used herbicides which kill off all sorts of life so those mosquitoes also aren't needed around those lots. It all works out, doesn't it? Turns out these guys are really mathematicians but in school they were called nerds, so they decided to band together and call themselves developers)

-Agricultural land: four cents per acre (These are the guys we love best; no one knows how to fundraise like they do. Especially the conventional wine grape guys. Man, they whine like no one whines and they have money being thrown at them from every direction. And now they figured out how to get the best bargain of all in this program! Kudos!)

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