By JOHN FLOWERS
WEYBRIDGE — The town of Weybridge will spend $40,000 to form its own “insect control district,” an organization that should be in place in time to give citizens some relief from mosquitoes beginning next spring.
The move earned approval from a decisive majority of the approximately 70 voters who showed up at a special town meeting on Tuesday to discuss the issue. A local resident had requested the meeting and vote through a citizens’ petition filed this spring.
Weybridge residents had rejected an insect control program last March at town meeting. But an onslaught of mosquitoes spawned by this spring’s wet weather prompted some citizens to bring the issue back to the fore.
Weybridge Selectwoman Gale Hurd said the $40,000 approved on Tuesday will largely pay for legal assistance in establishing the “Weybridge Insect Control District,” a separate municipal corporation that will direct the town’s efforts to swat down the local mosquito population, which has been particularly thick in the Lemon Fair River area. The funds will also pay for help in getting liability insurance and in applying for a permit from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture to spread mosquito larvicide within Weybridge.
Once Weybridge gets its district organized, it can then contract for mosquito control services. The Lemon Fair Insect Control District — which includes the towns of Bridport and Cornwall — has already agreed to provide aerial larvicide drops for Weybridge. The Lemon Fair district has its own Cessna airplane and would charge a per-acre fee for the drops.
Hurd conceded it’s probably too late in the summer for Weybridge to offer any mosquito relief this year. Local officials will spend the coming weeks recruiting volunteers to help set up the new district.
“It will require a considerable volunteer commitment to get this going and keep it going,” said Hurd, who was pleased to report that some citizens have already offered to help.
She added Tuesday’s meeting was very informative, and featured the participation of state Entomologist Jon Turmel and Tom Vanacore, who heads the Lemon Fair Insect Control District.
One of the biggest future challenges for Weybridge and other mosquito control districts will be a scarcity of state funding for larvicide. The state annually reserves 10 percent of the receipts from motorboat registration fees for larvicide programs. That money — which amounts to more than $60,000 each year — ran out earlier this month, said Hurd, who added there may be attempts in the Legislature next year to increase the pool of money for larvicide.