Should city spray for mosquitoes?

Published 8:47 pm Saturday, March 7, 2009

Budget cuts took center stage again Thursday during the Albert Lea City Council’s preagenda workshop when councilors discussed what to do about mosquito spraying this summer.

Albert Lea City Manager Victoria Simonsen said mosquito spraying contractors have been calling her office trying to get their schedules in order for the summer. She would like to hear back from the council about whether to continue forward with spraying as in years past.

Simonsen said the council could decide to move forward with spraying at a budgeted cost of $30,000 from the city’s general fund; to not spray at all; or to move forward with spraying and bill city households a fee of $4 or $5 for the summer on their sewer and water bill.

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Last time the city billed the residents a small fee for mosquito spraying, there was some outcry and one resident even completely refused to pay the fee, she said

“But $30,000 to me, that’s a full position,” Simonsen said.

First Ward Councilor Vern Rasmussen said in his opinion if people think the spraying needs to be done, he thinks the cost should be added to their city bill.

While the expectation of having the spraying is nice, Rasmussen said, it hasn’t been able to be determined whether it is effective.

The mosquito spraying is like the discretionary funds the city has given away in years past, he said. They are both nice gestures, but they’re not essential to building tax base.

Second Ward Councilor Larry Baker said he thinks if the mosquito spraying is going to be cut from the city budget, the city needs to notify the public that that’s what the plans are. Then the public can respond with their opinions.

Mosquito spraying is one of several services citizens can rate on a survey at the ward budget meetings being held starting this week.

Times of the ward budget meetings are posted on the city’s Web site at