SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement Department wants to raise valley resident’s abatement property taxes by 75%.
Officials say they need to pay for more employees and future studies dealing with the mosquitoes.
But a group of local physicians tells ABC4 News raising the property taxes for this program could cause serious health problems for your children.
“This is wrong on multiple levels,” says Dr. Brian Moench, the president of the Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment.
Dr. Moench says, “They are spraying neurotoxic pesticides over the skies of Salt Lake City. I can’t imagine anyone would think that that is a good thing to do.”
He says the chemicals used by Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement Department or SLCMAD don’t decrease the mosquito populations, and the mosquitos develop a resistance.
“Now we also know that the kind of chemicals they intend to use have also been proven to harm human health, especially been harmful to brain development in children. In fact, even associated with the development of autism,” says the doctor.
SLCMAD tells us they’ll be focusing most of their efforts near the airport because that’s where the mosquitos are the most prevalent.
“We fear that there will be increasing pressure on the district to do even more spraying to try and make the prison site and the inland port site more capable with human existence, which means trying to get rid of the mosquitos,” he adds. “The only way we can get rid of the mosquitos is if we get rid of the Great Salt Lake and that would be an absolutely environmental catastrophe.”
Dr. Ary Faraji, who leads SLCMAD, tells us when it comes to the potential tax hike, if you own a home worth $437,200, you can expect to pay more than $39. That’s an increase of nearly $17. Million-dollar businesses will need to pay $200 a year, or an increase of $85.
SLCMAD tells ABC4 News this would be the first tax increase in seven years. Some of the potential funding would go to a new lab director, techs, and an education specialist.
“This is somebody who would be able to inform the community and do outreach to local schools and other aspects of the community to educate them about what is going on,” Dr. Neil Vickers with SLCMAD’s board told SLC Council during their work session.
Salt Lake City Council won’t get to vote on this issue.
A newer law states a local district can collect property tax increases if it’s approved by an appointed board of trustees and is subject to a reporting requirement, in this case, that board sits with SLCMAD.
“I mean, it’s kind of awkward position because we are holding a public hearing but we don’t actually have any power to approve or deny the change,” says Councilmember Darin Mano of District 5.
Dr. Faraji says he welcomes feedback on SLCMAD, “We would consider any input that we receive from the public, and this is part of the intent of going through this process.”
Salt Lake City plans to hold a public hearing on July 20th for the proposed tax hike.
SLCMAD plans to hold another one in December.