Lafayette’s mosquito control contractor has resumed answering special requests for spraying following an outcry by City-Parish Council members, who said constituents want to see the trucks roll when they call for them.
Council members on Tuesday complained for nearly an hour to City-Parish Emergency Operations and Security Coordinator Bobby Cormier about a policy of not responding to calls for spot treatments, which Cormier argued is inefficient when trying to fight mosquitoes parishwide.
Council Chairman Jay Castille and City-Parish Chief Administrative Officer Lowell Duhon confirmed Friday that the parish’s mosquito control contractor, New Iberia-based Mosquito Control Contractors Inc., will resume responding to requests.
MCCI owner Glenn Stokes said he has already begun working through a backlog of service calls.
“We will rapidly catch up,” he said.
Duhon said the plan is for MCCI to tweak its regular spraying schedule to work in calls from residents so that the spraying trucks do not have to go out of the way.
For special requests that cannot be woven into the regular schedule, an inspector will visit the site to determine if spraying is necessary, he said.
Still unresolved is MCCI’s winter spraying strategy.
At Tuesday’s meeting, several council members expressed shock to learn not even routine mosquito spraying had been done for the first three months of the year.
“That’s astounding to me,” Councilman Jared Bellard said at the time.
City-Parish President Joel Robideaux, who took office in January, said his staff is researching how city-parish government has handled winter spraying in past years, as well as what is done in surrounding parishes.
At least two neighboring parishes do not spray regularly during the winter.
Iberia Parish Mosquito Control Director Herff M. P. Jones said there was no regular spraying for adult mosquitoes this year until April 11, though some special requests for spraying were answered.
Iberia Parish continues treating mosquito breeding sites with larvicide and monitoring the mosquito population through sampling during the winter, as does Lafayette Parish.
In St. Martin Parish, spraying is generally done only between April 15 and Nov. 15, barring some unusual weather that causes mosquito populations to spike, said St. Martin Parish President Guy Cormier.
Stokes has said south Louisiana’s subtropical climate justifies spraying all year.
Lafayette’s tax-funded mosquito control contract came under heightened scrutiny from the administration last year after an internal investigation found 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.
Stokes fired the outreach employee but disputed the extent of the falsified reports and maintains there was no wider issue with questionable documentation for contractual services.