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Is it time to rethink the San Joaquin County mosquito control agency?

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Posted: Saturday, June 8, 2013 12:00 am

Do we need changes in the county agency charged with zapping mosquitos?

The San Joaquin County Grand Jury thinks so, and it lays out a compelling case.

The jury recently released a scathing but carefully documented report on the San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District.

The jury found the board has violated the Brown Act, which provides transparency in government operations. It pointed out that board members have voted themselves health insurance coverage that costs taxpayers $66,439 per year.

Perhaps more troubling, it stated quite convincingly that the 11 board members don’t really know what’s going on.

The majority of board members, according to the report, didn’t understand the vote on providing health care benefits. One member said he voted “yes” simply because the district had the money.

And the district, apparently, does have the money.

A lot of it.

The district has a whopping reserve fund of $9 million, but none of the board members could explain the intended use of that reserve.

That lack of understanding is all the more peculiar because some of the trustees — or their close family members — have served multiple terms on the board. One even suggested board membership was a family right and obligation.

We’re left impressed by the diligence of the grand jury — and baffled by the apparent cluelessness of the board.

The jury makes numerous sensible recommendations, such as posting the board’s agenda and budget online. The district manager, says the jury, should update the board on the budget. To inject fresh blood, term limits should be established.

All that’s well and good.

But, ultimately, we are left wondering: Do we really need an independent agency with 11 board members to run this insect control operation?

Couldn’t the district be consolidated with other county operations, with a savings to the taxpayers?

Lodi and other cities in the county all appoint members to the board. Lodi residents are chipping in to the $9 million mystery reserve.

Perhaps San Joaquin County Supervisor Ken Vogel and the Lodi City Council, working together, could do taxpayers a big favor and ask some hard questions.

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