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Woodstock approves mosquito control contract after debate

WOODSTOCK – The Woodstock City Council on Tuesday voted to extend a contract for mosquito control, but not before discussion on the effectiveness of spraying for the blood-sucking insects.

Councilman Mike Turner said money put toward a temporary and minor fix of mosquito problems could be better spent elsewhere. Turner voted no on the extension, which was supported by the rest of the council.

The measure extends the city's contract with Clarke Environmental at about $4,700 for larvae control applications and $4,300 for adult mosquito spraying. The city has allotted $28,000 for mosquito control in its 2014-15 budget.

Turner urged his fellow council members to think critically and not to approve the contract simply because it has done so in the past.

"We shouldn't be doing something if it has virtually no impact," Turner said. "I question whether this has an impact. Therefore I don't think it's worth $28,000 of the taxpayers' money."

Woodstock started using public dollars to control mosquitoes in 2002, around the time West Nile virus was spreading across the country. The contractor applies the larvae control applications early in the warm season and then sprays for adult mosquitoes throughout the year, as needed and called for by staff, said City Manager Roscoe Stelford, who has final say in when sprays occur.

The city doesn't use the full budget some years, Stelford added.

"If we have a drought, we guarantee we aren't going to come close," he said.

Mayor Brian Sager said that while contracting mosquito control service won't eradicate the insects or keep their numbers down for good, it's a service ultimately called for by city residents.

"In my mind, yes, it's an expensive proposition, but I would say it's a minimal investment to try to address the nuisance concerns of our residents," Sager said.

Councilman Mark Saladin suggested the council keep the conversation in mind going forward.

"Think about it and maybe get some other opinions on it, and think about it for next year," Saladin said.

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