East Flagler Mosquito Control District faces $1.1M budget deficit

By Brittany Jones, Flagler County Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 08, 2017, 7:11 PM EDT

Mosquito control in Flagler County is facing some tough budget challenges after discovering a huge financial oversight.

  • East Flagler Mosquito Control facing $1.1 million deficit
  • New $2.1 million facility that opened in June partly to blame
  • A board meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 21

"I think it was just that we thought we had more money than we did," said Mark Positano, operating manager of the East Flagler Mosquito Control District. "It's not that we were expecting more money. We thought we had more than we actually did."

East Flagler Mosquito Control is still doing normal operations despite nearly two months left in its fiscal year, and Positano said the budget is about $1.1 million short.

An auditor recently found the budget discrepancy in the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget.

"It was not caught until the auditor did the report that the beginning fund balance was not adjusted," Positano said.

One budget sheet showed the agency had about $4 million, but it only had about $3 million.

"I don't have an answer to that yet," Positano said. "That is something we are still looking into."

For the last 65 years, East Flagler Mosquito Control District has researched mosquitoes and has operated a helicopter to spray in the county. The districts is funded by ad valorem taxes and covers areas east of U.S. 1 to the coast within Flagler County.

Positano said the district's new building that recently opened in June, which cost $2.1 million, may be partly to blame for the overspending.

"That's really the culprit," he said. "It's all the spending that happened with the budget for the building. That's kind of what impacted the budget capital outlay fund. Usually, our fund is in shape, but when you build a big facility like this, that's how we got into trouble."

A letter from the director of mosquito control was sent to the district's board members July 28, stating the crisis it's currently in. The director mentions the loss of two full-time employees, all part-time employees and no pay increases for high-up jobs.

Pat Block said mosquito control has been taking care of her neighborhood and is concerned about the possible cuts.

"It's hard to compare what could happen if they do have those cuts," Block said. "I think they should do a better job of accounting if that's the case. But you know, budgets have to be cut."

Positano said his concerns are the six part-time employees, because they take out the trucks to spray the neighborhoods. They could be the first to be cut.

"It's in those surge capacities when we have a lot of mosquitoes and we use our (part-time employees) to fill in the gaps," Positano said. "We only have so many full-time people that we can put out in the field. ... Regular summer activity we can handle, but like Hurricane Matthew — we needed extra people for sure."

The budget lists personnel expenses, operating expenses, repairs and maintenance, office supplies, chemical and capital outlay from 80 percent to nearly 100 percent exhausted for the budget year. Positano said the contingency fund would normally be between $300,000 and $400,000, but it currently is at $728.

Positano said operations will continue to be normal, and the district will ask employees to work long hours if there's a major mosquito-related incident.

A board meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 21.