Orange County Vector Control At-a-Glance
- Service to all of Orange County (798 square miles).
- Dedicated to controlling mosquitoes, rats, Red Imported Fire Ants, and flies.
- County-wide surveillance programs for vector-borne diseases.
- Responds to almost 20,000 citizen requests per year.
- Practices Integrated Vector Management (IVM) Technologies.
- Educational programs available by appointment.
- Information available on local household pests.
- Vector and other insect identification services to public.
- Mosquito fish available at the District office at no cost.
Orange County Vector Control: History
The Orange County Vector Control District (District) is a special district and is one of over 100 agencies statewide specifically dedicated to protecting public health by controlling rats, flies, mosquitoes, Red Imported Fire Ants and other vector related problems.
The District was formed in 1947, originally as the Orange County Mosquito Abatement District, in accordance with local authority provided by the Mosquito Abatement Act of 1915 and further supported by the California Health and Safety Codes. The District was responsible for protecting the growing population of Orange County from mosquitoes and mosquito-born diseases. In 1975, the Orange County Board of Supervisors conducted an efficiency study that concluded that the District could effectively assume the responsibility for comprehensive vector control. Consequently, fly and rat control, formerly part of the Orange County Health Department, was transferred to the District. At that time the name of the District was changed to the Orange County Vector Control District. In 2004, the District reestablished a Red Imported Fire Ant program after the State stopped funding the program they had established in 2000.
Operation of the District is overseen by a Board of Trustees comprised of 35 members, each appointed by their city of residence (34) with one member representing the County. Trustees are appointed for terms of two or four years.
The current budget approved by the Board of Trustees supports District activities in providing vector control services to County residents. Funding also supports education programs on vectors that are presented by staff at school and civic group meetings. The District also has printed material available to the public upon request that describes what citizens can do to keep their homes and property free of rats, flies, and mosquitoes, Red Imported Fire Ant, and pests that may be found around the yard and inside the home.
Frequently Asked Questions About the District
Q: What is a “Special District”?
A: The law defines a special district as “any agency of the state for the local performance of governmental or proprietary functions within limited boundaries” (Government Code §16271 [d]). In other words, a special district is a separate local government that delivers public services to a specific area.
A special district is governed by a Board of Trustees or Directors. In the case of the District the board is made up of a representative from each city in the County, and one from the County at large. In 1947, that totaled 11 members. There are now 34 cities in Orange County , resulting in a 35 member Board of Trustees. The Board provides direction for the District Manager, who is responsible for the day to day operation of the District.
Q: How many employees are there at the District?
A: The Orange County Vector Control District has 55 full time employees. During the months of peak activity, from March to November, the District historically hires a seasonal workforce. For that period, there are as many as 75 extra help employees performing tasks like treating gutters, flood channels, and underground storm drains.
Q: By what authority does the District operate?
A: The Orange County Vector Control District was formed according to guidelines set forth by the Mosquito Abatement Act of 1915 and the California Health and Safety Code. In 2002 Senate Bill 1588 amended the code, and is known as the Mosquito Abatement and Vector Control District Law. The District remains in compliance with and operates under the authority provided for in the Mosquito Abatement and Vector Control District Law.
Q: What authority regarding access to private property does this law provide?
A: Subject to the limitations of the United States Constitution and the California Constitution, employees of a district may enter any property within the district, or property located outside the district from which vectors may enter the district without hindrance or notice for any of the following purposes:
(1) Inspect the property to determine the presence of vectors or public nuisances.
(2) Abate public nuisances pursuant to this chapter, either directly or by giving notice to the property owner to abate the nuisance.
(3) Determine if a notice to abate a public nuisance has been complied with.
(4) Control vectors and treat property with appropriate physical, chemical or biological control measures.
Q: How is the District funded?
A: The Orange County Vector Control District receives funding from two assessments: one imposed in 1992, for $1.92 per single family home; and a second was approved by property owners in 2004 to reestablish a fire ant program and stepped up West Nile virus suppression. This second assessment was approved at $5.42 per single family home (in 2012 the rate stayed the same as the 2011 rate of $5.02 per single family home). The District also receives a portion of the basic property tax levy.
Q: What is the annual budget for the District, and how is it allocated?
A: The District's annual budget in 2011-2012 was $10,109,990. The Executive Department accounts for 7%, Administrative Services and Communications each get 10%, Scientific and Technical Services is allocated 14%, and Operations is budgeted 59%.
Q: Following the passage of the Benefit Assessment, the District re-established a Red Imported Fire Ant program. How many new public employees were added?
A: Thanks to a unique partnership with the private sector, the entire fire ant program was staffed by adding only five full-time employees. Red Imported Fire Ant sites identified and treated for the first time by District staff. Subsequent treatments are performed by the private pest control companies the District has trained and contracted with. Following multiple treatments by the pest control companies, District staff makes the final treatment and inspection. If there are still Red Imported Fire Ants present, the cycle starts over.
Q: The County has grown. What has the District done to keep pace?
A: In 2005, the District increased the number of field inspectors from 16 to 20, the first expansion since 1976. These new Inspectors will allow the workload to be more effectively distributed and was made necessary by the dramatic growth in the southern part of the County. This expansion was part of a reorganization that reduced administrative staff by 30% and increased the number of field staff.
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