County operation of mosquito control “a big if”

In questions answered this morning by St. Johns County Administrator Michael Wanchick, local Historic City News reporters sought to clarify some confusion created by a recent newspaper account of plans for the county to absorb operations of the Anastasia Mosquito Control District.

In reading the article, some people were confused about the intention of the Administrator and the Board of County Commissioners regarding their relationship with the District.

The comments from Wanchick in a newspaper article this morning were in response to the “IF mosquito control becomes part of County operations…” question. Wanchick explained that “currently, that is still a big if”.

Some readers took the article to infer that the County has three choices in dealing with the District and that the Commissioners would make the decision as to the District’s fate.

One response on the newspaper’s own website commented, “This article fails to make it clear that even if the county decides they want to take over mosquito control the Board of County Commissioners does not have the authority to absorb the mosquito control district and dissolve that special district.”

Wanchick’s comments today seem to bear that out.

Although Wanchick did say, “Staff members from both agencies are beginning to dialogue on that topic,” he told Historic City News reporters that neither Administration, nor the Board as a whole, “have made any formal recommendations beyond considering the cost-saving recommendations” identified in an independent analysis study. “This is something the Board of County Commissioners has said they would like to do in conjunction with the Anastasia Mosquito Control District.”

Wanchick was asked, specifically, if it is his position that the Board of County Commissioners has the authority to take over and operate the Anastasia Mosquito Control District if they voted to do so.

His answer, “No.”

Wanchick told Historic City News that he understands “the only authority to abolish the Anastasia Mosquito Control District lies with the state legislature.” He went on to say, “Since it was created by the state legislature as a special district, it can only be absolved in the same way.”

Control districts established by special act prior to July 1980 can only be dissolved by special act of the State Legislature or an ordinance of the governing body of the special district approved by the voters of the district.

The Anastasia Mosquito Control District was originally established in 1941 by special act and approved by referendum in 1948.

According to Wanchick, “Should the Board of County Commissioners vote to pursue combining mosquito control functions with County government, the process would be to ask the state legislature to take the necessary action.”

Since Wanchick explained that no decision has been reached by staff or the Board, he says it is premature to identify any differences between what the Administration might recommend and the recommendations of the Commission regarding their relationship with the Anastasia Mosquito Control District.

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