North Fork Mosquito Abatement District board president Rain Klepper came before the Hotchkiss council on Sept. 10 to request money to continue mitigation work after the organization ran out of payroll money the first week of August. While the organization made it through the entire 2014 season without having to ask for money, the wet, warm spring made for a long and especially challenging season.
The Hotchkiss area where the district's western, southern and northern borders end are "literally like our front lines of defense from preventing adult mosquitoes from coming into the town," said Klepper.
The NFMAD, funded by a mill levy of 1.802 mills, has "squeezed every dollar in a ruthless manner," said Klepper. Cost to maintain the Delta County Fairgrounds and other public spaces in Paonia and Hotchkiss represents about 8 to 10 percent of the total budget.
Klepper said that the NFMAD is seeking ways to raise revenues, including giving private property owners who are doing work on their land and charging about half the actual cost, donation letters to file with their taxes.
"So the mill levy is not enough is what you're saying?" asked trustee Larry Jakubiak.
"No," said Klepper. "It really isn't."
To continue to make payroll through early November and complete work in key areas such as the Delta County Fairgrounds and Willow Heights Park will require $3,700 to $4,000 in physical mitigation work. That work will help reduce habitat where the West Nile-carrying Culex mosquitoes over-winter. If next spring brings wet weather, projects would have to be tabled until fall.
Last year, mosquito season went into November, so it's conceivable it could continue well into October this year. "We can't finish the projects without help," said Klepper. The organization's only resources are the town and Delta County.
Klepper said the Board of County Commissioners would give double the amount the town would pledge.
Trustees approved $1,500, to come from a line item budgeted since 2012 for mosquito control efforts following mosquito problems experienced in 2012.
Trustee Larry Jakubiak cast the sole dissenting vote, and Carrie Wingfield was absent from the meeting.
NFMAD "has gone through extraordinary measures here to combat mosquitoes and West Nile Virus," said mayor Wendell Koontz, "and we thank you."
Council also discussed the issue of the two-hour parking signs, which are not enforced. "I personally don't believe we have a parking problem in Hotchkiss," said Jakubiak, adding that the signs create the problem.
Ideas included removing the two-hour signs and installing signs pointing people to the public lot next to the Creamery and upgrading the Elks parking lot. ShadeScapes USA recently announced it will bring 16 jobs to town and is currently remodeling the Buffalo Collection building for office space. Council said it would like to seek a solution prior to those jobs arriving.
There is a vacancy on the planning commission with Mary Hockenbery stepping down.
The town will begin advertising for the seat.
Council will take under advisement the issue of a request for a raise by Judge Lynn French, who for the past 35 years has presided over the Hotchkiss Municipal Court during upcoming budget meetings.