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Livingston Mosquito Abatement's future at risk

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DENHAM SPRINGS - Livingston Parish Mosquito Abatement District officials fear that they'll fold if voters don't approve a 3-mill property tax on October 19.

Mosquito Abatement Director Jeanine Tessmer says they spray daily in Livingston Parish to keep the pesky mosquito population at bay. They currently bill more than 46,000 parish residents 30 dollars for the service, but around 35 percent of them don't pay up. Mosquito Abatement should receive around $1.2 million each year, but they only get around $900,000.

"Some people just ignore the bill, just say I'm not going to pay that. You can't get rid of mosquitoes, forget it," she said.

Now Mosquito Abatement is trying another way to get the money by tacking onto property tax. This was shot down by voters in November 2012, but the district needs the money to survive.

"Ultimately what's going to happen if we don't pass this proposition will be within the next two years approximately, there will be no more mosquito control in Livingston Parish," said Tessmer.

When reserve funds run out in 2015, 22 employees would lose their jobs, the district would sell off equipment and Mosquito Abatement would no longer exist. Tessmer says the property tax was shot down by 58 percent of voters in November.

"Thinking about my children playing outside and mosquitoes everywhere... we need that," said Liz Black. "Why allow something to happen that we can actually do something to prevent it, and only thirty dollars a year? That's nothing."

Tessmer says the district's future depends on the October 19 election. Early voting starts Saturday through October 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Registrar of Voters Office on South Magnolia Avenue.

If the property tax fails and in the future the parish decides to revive the program, Tessmer says it would have to start from scratch.


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