Why I Voted “NO” Mosquito Tax

By now, most Butte County residents have received an official ballot from the Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control District (BCMVCD). I voted “No,” and here’s why:

1. For several years the BCMVCD drove up and down our neighborhood streets “fogging” with harmful pesticides, leaving behind an invisible curtain of the pesticides for unsuspecting people to walk or ride their bikes through.

New truck used for "fogging."

Mosquito District employees with new truck, 5/19/09.

2. The pesticide spray was non-specific and killed just about any insect on contact, beneficial as well as non-beneficial. I still miss the evening song of the crickets on a warm summer night.

"Soldier Beetle" eats aphids.

“Soldier Beetle” eats aphids.

Native pollinator.

Native pollinator.

3. It took over 2 years for a small, local environmental group (of which I was a part) to stop the BCMVCD from this dreadful practice and to start relying more on public education rather than fogging to keep the mosquito populations down. I don’t want my tax money to be used to fund neighborhood spraying in other Butte County towns.

4. In 2009, the Chico City Council voted to spend 2.2 million dollars of our Redevelopment Agency Funds (RDA) on a BCMVCD Chico Sub-station (See photos below.) That expenditure was one of the last projects our now defunct RDA Funds was spent on. The 10,000 sq.ft. building was built next to Comanche Creek with no environmental review, despite the fact that chemical pesticides would be stored there. Several people spoke out against the project but, in the end, the Mosquito District got the expensive sub-station that their Board of Trustees wanted so badly. The sub-station, located in the Hagen Lane Industrial Park, was a great financial deal for the owners of the industrial park who stood to gain from selling the lot to the BCMVCD.

BCMVCD's Chico Sub-station

BCMVCD’s Chico Sub-station, 2011

5. On Sept. 14, 2011, two friends and I went on a tour of the new Chico Sub-station led by Matt Ball, District Manager of the BCMVCD. Everything was new and looked like it hadn’t been used much.  Mr. Ball admitted at the time that the facility wasn’t really needed. Perhaps it serves more purpose now, but regardless, I still think about other real needs that 2.2 million of our Redevelopment Funds could have been used for.

Sub-station lab.

Sub-station lab, 2011

District Manager's office at sub-station.

District Manager’s office at sub-station, 2011

Sub-station conference room.

Sub-station conference room, 2011

Sub-station offices

Sub-station offices, 2011

I called Matt Ball when I got the ballot and asked him what the new property tax increase would be used for. He assured me over and over that the majority of the money would be used for public education, such as, how homeowners can prevent mosquitoes from growing on their property by not letting any “standing water” accumulate in containers or in their rain gutters. But I noticed on the list included in the ballot that expenditures for Public Education was way at the bottom. If such placement indicates priority, then I’m not sure education will receive much attention.

Matt Ball, District Manager, BCMVCD.

Matt Ball, District Manager, BCMVCD, 2011