Olive Branch resident Chris Turnbow continued his push for the city to change its mosquito control policy at Tuesday evening’s Board of Aldermen meeting.
Turnbow appeared and presented information with the hope the city would stop using a substance called Permanone 30-30 as its method of controlling the flying insects.
He made a similar request in August of last year when he stated the spray was unsafe.
Tuesday evening, Turnbow reiterated his stance that there are better alternatives to what Olive Branch is using for mosquitoes. Turnbow was a beekeeper and kept a hive at his residence, but the bees started to die off to the point where they were all eradicated. He said state agriculture personnel came and tested his hive. It was determined the Permanone 30-30 was prevalent there and was likely the cause of the bees being killed, Turnbow said.
“The basic thing I said tonight is that the city should not be broadcast spraying a chemical such as Permanone 30-30, which is toxic to pollinators, when we don’t see a real need for it,” Turnbow later said. “The main reason they are spraying for mosquitoes is for control of West Nile Virus. That is not a problem here in Northwest Mississippi. You really shouldn’t use any type of pesticide until you can demonstrate a real need for it.”
Turnbow stressed pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, bats and flies, are important in the environment for the growth of fruits, vegetables and other food items.
The resident suggested the city consider targeted pest control, what Turnbow called Integrated Pest Management, instead of what he called a “scorched earth” policy of broadcast spraying.
Commenting on Turnbow’s remarks after the meeting, Mayor Scott Phillips said the issue is something the city continues to look at.
“We’ll consider the recommendations that he gave us,” Phillips said. “We want to be more friendly to the environment and we’ve been looking around at different things.”
Permanone 30-30 is used by many municipalities in the country for mosquito control and some say it is the industry standard. But there are entities, such as the Maryland Department of Agriculture, where the Integrated Pest Management method is recommended and spraying should be the last resort method when mosquitoes reach a high level.
As of May 30, the Mississippi Department of Health (MDH) has reported just one positive mosquito testing for West Nile Virus, which was found in Hinds County. DeSoto County had one reported human case for the entire year of 2018, the MDH reports, with no positive mosquito samples.
However, mosquitoes found positive for West Nile Virus were discovered in two Memphis cases this month, according to the Shelby County Health Department. Those findings came in the 38115 and 38118 zip codes, which are the Hickory Hill neighborhood and the area east of the Memphis International Airport and Lamar Avenue, or U.S. Highway 78.
No human cases of the disease have been reported.
TIF FINANCING APPROVED: Olive Branch aldermen Tuesday approved a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan worth up to $5.3 million for the purpose of reimbursing the developer of a planned commercial area called The Bridges at Camp Creek, to be located on Camp Creek Blvd.
“The land has been inside the city limits since the 1970s,” Phillips explained. “It’s pretty much been undeveloped up to this particular time as an unfavorable piece of property. That’s where the TIF comes in and hopefully will help develop the property and turn it into something that can generate revenue.”
Under the plan, the developer will install infrastructure in the area, but once revenue begins to be generated there by the businesses through ad valorem taxes and sales taxes, the city will issue bonds to reimburse the developer for the public construction. Debt service of the bonds would be paid from the revenue that is generated from the project, according to City Attorney Bryan Dye. That means the revenue pays for the project and not city taxpayers.
“That site today produces about $200 a year in property taxes,” said Dye. “It’s projected to produce several hundred thousand dollars a year in property taxes with the development. The incremental increase in taxes will pay the debt service on the bonds.”
STREET PAVING PLAN APPROVED: Olive Branch city leaders also approved the bid of Lehman-Roberts totaling about $1.3 million for street paving this year.
“We’re hopefully going to get it going as quickly as we can,” Phillips said. “We budgeted to do $800,000. The board had several streets and we had several streets that really needed attention. They picked all of highest priority and some of the ‘two’s,’ which became the alternate. Additional funding for the alternate would be $500,000 and we decided to do all of them.”
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.