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Cities suck some life out of mosquito vote 

It’s still too early to tell whether SLO County property owners will decide to tax themselves and expand a mosquito control program, but if votes from cities are any indication, things aren’t looking good for a new district.

As property owners, local government agencies get a vote, too. Out of the seven incorporated cities in the county, three city councils cast “yes” votes on a ballot measure to expand the vector control program, which is aimed at mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and rodents. The remaining four councils decided not to pay for the expanded program.

Cities aren’t the only public agencies able to vote. Everything from state agencies in the county to community service districts also have a chance to sway the ballot measure.

“We also recently met with the City of Atascadero and Pismo Beach to answer any questions they had about the ballot measure,” County Supervising Environmental Health Specialist Laurie Salo said. Both cities voted against the ballot measure. “We do not know why they would not support the ballot measure.”

County Environmental Health Director Curt Batson wouldn’t guess which way the vote would go, adding that he didn’t even know which way cities had voted until a New Times reporter told him.

“So the impact of government agencies on the outcome is pretty difficult to predict at this point,” Batson said.

Already, though, the vector vote will be a popular one. County Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald said about 35,000 ballots had been returned as of press time, which is more than one-third of roughly 90,000 ballots sent to property owners. “I think it’s going to be a better turnout than we had in May,” Rodewald joked.

If passed, the ballot measure would increase property taxes by $10 per household, on average. The money generated would pay $1.1 million per year for an agency with one part-time and eight full-time employees to expand the county’s current vector control program.

It’s not really a vote, but an assessment, which means voters can vote or even change a vote until public comment is closed on June 23 during the first Board of Supervisors public hearing. SLO County will be the last agency to cast a vote, but Rodewald believed county supervisors would vote “yes.” A report on the election results is scheduled for July 14.

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