The Pasco County Mosquito Control District (PCMCD) takes great pride in providing mosquito control services to the residents of Pasco County in the most cost effective manner possible, while being self-sufficient with little reliance from outside sources. This focus has allowed our program to be very responsive to the resident’s needs and be less dependent on outside resources resulting in significant cost savings. The following will highlight the areas of efficiency within our program that have significantly improved our operations:
PCMCD has a long history of purchasing equipment and supplies at significant savings through Florida State Contract pricing, military surplus facilities (Starke) and Government rates for computer and office supplies. Chemical purchases for mosquito control which are approximately 25% of our operating budget are purchased through competitive bids assuring the lowest cost to our taxpayers. Vehicle purchases are made through state contract pricing at considerable savings. Additionally, we typically retire a vehicle once it reaches 100,000 miles and often gets a very good return at auction. Since we take very good care of our vehicles they are often recognized as a prime purchase at the auction and provide better than expected return in dollars.
PCMCD is very well known for being an innovator of equipment used in both larviciding and adulticiding applications. Rather than purchasing equipment off the shelf from distributors at a much higher cost, much of our equipment has been built in-house for daily use. Equipment designed by our own staff has been in use on the larviciding trucks, helicopters and fog trucks, saving taxpayers significant dollars over the years. Additionally, this equipment has proved to be more reliable and has allowed our staff to get things repaired and back on line much more efficiently. Several mosquito control programs throughout the US have visited PCMCD to view our equipment with the hopes of replicating the equipment for use within their program.
To plan for efficient operation during the peak of our activities PCMCD stocks the essential parts and supplies which are most vulnerable to break-down. Rather than waiting to receive approval to purchase and wait for parts to be delivered, our shop has these critical parts available for immediate replacement, allowing the equipment to be put back into service the very same day. We focus on being as responsive as possible so we can repair on our own equipment, rather than rely on outside sources to repair on their schedule.
PCMCD utilizes a variety of application equipment designed in-house at a fraction of the cost. Much of this equipment would cost significantly more if purchased from the available distributors and is often much more serviceable and reliable.
Following are several examples of the application equipment:
The larviciding/inspector trucks are designed to utilize full use of the cab and utility body in the most efficient manner. The body holds a 250 gal spray tank built locally and utilizes an injection system designed by staff. This system injects a small amount of insecticide into the water as it flows through the hose or boom system on the front of the truck.
The boom system installed on the front grill is designed to allow the inspector to spray the standing water for larval control without the need for additional personnel. The inspector can safely navigate the truck while moving the spray nozzle to the desired position via an internal switch and actuator arm system. This system has worked well for treating roadside ditches and other areas where the driver can safely navigate.
PCMCD has recently incorporated the use of laptop computers within the inspector’s vehicles to utilize the software developed for our program. This software allows inspectors to see the resident’s calls for request for service and enter information found on these inspections. This software program also allows PCMCD to look at vehicle location to assure efficient response times and provides accountability of their time. The software program also allows for pre-planning helicopter applications and post-analysis to assure the proper areas were treated. This software is utilized for planning meetings each morning for field inspectors to review recent rainfall, current weather, mosquito trap collection numbers, resident request calls, current tides, etc. This program has been a great asset in sharing critical information to allow us to respond to the public needs as quickly and efficiently as possible. Our quick response has been acknowledged by the Pasco residents and we’re frequently told they never see this with other local government agencies.
PCMCD has designed and built most of the Ultra Low Volume (ULV) spray equipment used for the control of the adult stage of the mosquito from the ground. The only items purchased to build these ground ULV sprayers are the blower, engine and nozzle assembly. The frame, insecticide tanks and riser tubes are welded in-house to provide considerable cost savings. The automatic flow control system is designed to automatically adjust the insecticide delivered with the speed of the vehicle assuring the proper flow rate. These ULV units have been standardized for our fleet and are easily serviceable and reliable for use. The similar units available from equipment manufacturers have had many problems which can be difficult to resolve quickly and often result in a significant amount of down time until repaired.
The larger ULV machines for the pickup trucks would cost approximately $15,000 for the unit and flow control system, while we can build and assemble the equipment for $5,000. We utilize these units in 9 trucks that often go out each evening. The total cost savings would be a total of $90,000. The smaller ULV machines for the ATV’s would cost approximately $6,000 if purchased from a distributor, while we can make the same for $2,000. We have four of these units.
Another spray tool designed by staff is our hand held ULV sprayer. These small and light sprayers have been converted from an Echo weed eater and transformed into an efficient tool for treating the adult mosquitoes in hard to reach areas. The cost of purchasing and converting these sprayers are significantly less than those available off the shelf from the equipment manufacturers.
The cost of transforming the hand held ULV sprayers from the weed eater to a spray unit is $450, while it would cost $4,000 to purchase a similar unit for the equipment supplier. We have 10 of these hand held ULV sprayers, so the total savings would be $35,500.
Due to the extremely high cost of insecticide spray tanks for the airplane and helicopter, PCMCD has successfully built and designed our own systems. The fiberglass layup is done in-house by our own personnel and the spray system is design internally. This results in a major reduction in cost savings.
The larviciding spray system for the helicopters and adulticiding ULV system for the airplanes are very specialized delivery systems and very expensive to purchase from the few available manufacturers. The larviciding tank, motor and blower assembly would be approximately $36,000 if purchased from a supplier, while we built this unit for $4,500.
Likewise, we built the aerial adulticiding ULV tank, pump and flow meter assembly for approximately $1,500. It would cost well over $35,000 to manufacture this same system if we would be able to find a manufacturer willing to custom design the system for our planes. We saved over $67,000 by manufacturing and installing these systems on our two planes.
To determine the number of mosquitoes in a given area PCMCD uses passive suction traps that are designed and built by staff and have been in use for over 25 years. These traps have been copied by other agencies such as the USDA for use in their trapping and surveillance research programs. We use 40 of these suction traps throughout Pasco County to provide an indication of the changes of the mosquito populations. They are very inexpensive to build out of easily obtained parts from your local hardware store.
PCMCD has installed both automobile and aviation fuel tanks to increase our efficiency, reduce product cost and become more independent of local suppliers. By having the fuel on sight, we are able to purchase fuel in bulk to save on cost. We no longer need to waste valuable time driving to a fuel source and transporting fuel to the helicopters, which also reduces flight time. By having fuel on site we are also able to have a secure source of fuel in the event of hurricanes or other events resulting in a limited supply at other locations. We could make this fuel available to other emergency services such as the local sheriff’s department, EMS or EOC if the need arises.
Our staff of 32 full time and 15 part time employees have been cross trained to perform multiple tasks enabling efficiency in our small program that services the 745 sq. miles of Pasco County. Rather than assign one individual to one task as is done in many large programs, we often reassign employees to different areas or different tasks as needed. Additionally, many of our employees are tasked with more than one duty which often keeps them very busy. For example, our Operations Supervisor is tasked with coordinating the ground adulticiding program, aerial adulticiding program, mosquito surveillance program and chicken surveillance program. You will notice that each of these separate tasks are assigned to one individual in the larger mosquito control programs. Many of our field employees are assisting the shop personnel with rebuilding equipment and other projects during the off-season. With a relatively small staff, we must utilize the workforce as efficiently as possible.
In addition to the items highlighted above, we have many other examples of efficiency within our program that help to save time and provide cost savings by doing these task in-house.
To summarize, PCMCD has a long history of being very frugal in the use of funds provided by ad valorem taxes. We do our best to utilize these funds as efficiently as possible while providing the highest level of mosquito control services to the Pasco County residents. Also, since our elected commissioners are solely focused on the mission of PCMCD, they don’t get buried in a multitude of other unrelated issues, some of which can be very political. This translates into prompt decisions regarding policy and budget that affect the day to day operations, resulting in an efficiently run organization focused on the best mosquito/disease control for Pasco County’s residents.