Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
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Mosquito taxes to hold line

MONROE COUNTY --The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District will not raise property taxes or take money out of reserves, but it has still managed to balance its 2013-14 fiscal year budget.

The district was looking at pulling $21,571 out of reserves to balance the budget, but late last Thursday, district officials managed to find money in a capital fund to cover the small shortfall, Mosquito Control Commissioner Jack Bridges said.

"I am officially tickled pink," Bridges joked Friday. "We have worked hard in the past couple years to reduce costs, while still providing a quality service."

The district recently reduced its 2013-14 budget from about $10.2 million to $9.75 million, cutting health benefit expenses and reducing overlapping costs.

Mosquito Control is proposing a tax rate that would charge $50 per $100,000 of property value and generate nearly $9.7 million.

During the past two fiscal years, the district did not raise property taxes but took millions out of reserves to balance its operating budget.

Despite a tight upcoming budget, the district was still able to set aside $80,000 to lease or purchase a drone and $300,000 for a new computer system that incorporates GPS technology, enabling field inspectors and helicopter pilots to increase their efficiency.

Bridges attributed the ability to make such necessary high-dollar purchases and still balance the budget to Executive Director Michael Doyle, who was hired two years ago.

"When he came here, I was worried that we were hiring a guy in a white lab coat who likes to look at bugs, but he has turned out to be a first-rate scientist with a great business sense," Bridges said. "He understands business and he understands politics. He is also very well-liked in the community. We are very lucky to have him."

The Mosquito Control board will finalize its budget and property tax rate when it meets at 11 a.m. Sept. 14. The fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

"I think we have come a long way," Commissioner Steve Smith said. "We have a lot of geographic challenges that big, square-chunk counties in the state don't have to deal with."

tohara@keysnews.com

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