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Mosquito Abatement & Rodent Control gets approval to spend $4.5 million of their own funds on new helicopter

The East Baton Rouge Parish Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control is getting a new helicopter to help them kill mosquitoes.
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 7:00 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2022 at 11:25 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The East Baton Rouge Parish Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control is getting a new helicopter to help them kill mosquitoes.

On Wednesday, members of the East Baton Rouge Metro Council approved the agency to amend their 2022 current expense budget to be able to spend $4,549,533.00 to purchase the new helicopter.

“It’s going to enhance our program and increase efficiency, so we’re able to combat mosquitoes much more efficiently,” said Michael Becker, director of the East Baton Rouge Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control.

The agency known as MARC (Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control) has a dedicated tax millage which is governed by the Metro Council. So, any big-ticket items they’re looking to spend money on must be approved by council members.

“It is a high price item, but we have already saved for this. It’s in our fund balance, it’s not new money or anything like that and we’ve been carefully planning for it, so we do have the money to purchase it,” said Becker.

The helicopter will be able to use new chemicals to attack mosquitoes before they become adults, on a much broader scale.

“We looked at other options and this is the one that is going to work best for our program and suit our needs,” said Becker.

But council members did have mixed opinions, about all that money going towards something that may not make a huge difference from what’s on the books now.

“I certainly understand your reasoning behind it, from the function of a mosquito abatement I understand it. I’m not faulting you for that, you’re doing your job, but I think we’ve got to make sure we prioritize our spending throughout the parish,” said Councilman Dwight Hudson, District 9.

“I think the fact that this agency has maintained a 1974 and a 1986 (aircraft) shows that you aren’t frivolous,” said Councilwoman Chauna Banks, District 2.

“What I think folks are focusing on, is a public agency wants to spend 4.5 million dollars on a helicopter, which just on it’s face seems a little bit out of bounds. But talk to me please a little bit about what that return on investment would be,” said Councilman Rowdy Gaudet, District 3.

The Metro Council had to give final approval because they oversee Mosquito Abatement. The agency assured everyone the money will be put to good use.

“You know about how people feel when it comes to taxes and tax dollars being spent,” questioned WAFB’s Lester Duhe’.

“Absolutely, and it’s definitely a concern. It is a big ticket item but we do have justification on why we need the helicopter, and I think it’s a good thing for the community,” said Becker.

Becker says the agency plans on reducing its tax millage further in the future, to align with its budget and needs. It will be up for a vote this November.

Members of the East Baton Rouge Metro Council approved this resolution.
Members of the East Baton Rouge Metro Council approved this resolution.(Metro Council)

Read the resolution HERE.

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