City-parish government is hiring an outside consultant to scrutinize the public contract for mosquito control in Lafayette Parish amid a criminal investigation of falsified documents submitted by one of the contractor’s employees.
The consultant is expected to begin work later this month on a broad review of the contract with New Iberia-based Mosquito Control Contractors Inc., said Bobby Cormier, city-parish emergency operations and security coordinator.
MCCI has had the contract since 2002, and city-parish government pays the company about $1.1 million a year for a range of services that includes surveillance to determine how active mosquitoes are and spraying to fight the pests.
The consultant should be able to determine whether Lafayette is paying for work it doesn’t need or is paying too much for what it does need, said Cormier, who oversees the contract.
“Let’s get an expert in here and let somebody tell us,” he said. “It’s going to help me get a better grasp of what’s going on.”
Cormier started as emergency operations and security coordinator last year and said revisiting the more than decade-old mosquito control contract is a priority.
The need for a thorough review became more apparent when an informal investigation he began shortly after taking the job revealed that an MCCI employee tasked with doing mandatory public education was allegedly falsifying reports about outreach efforts, such as presentations and literature on the health concerns of mosquito bites and how to prevent them.
City-parish government found no presentations had been given at seven schools and day care centers reported by MCCI and that no literature had been dropped off at nine businesses listed as receiving mosquito control pamphlets.
In one instance, MCCI reported dropping off literature at an address that does not exist, according to documents obtained in April from city-parish government.
MCCI owner Glenn Stokes has said he fired the outreach employee, who has not been named, within two hours of learning of the discrepancies.
The company also agreed to return $37,524 city-parish government had paid for outreach work. A criminal investigation is pending.
Cormier said he expects the contract review to take about two months. It will be done by Baton Rouge-based Mosquito Surveillance & Control Consulting at a cost of about $19,000.
Follow Richard Burgess on Twitter, @rbb100.