Saginaw County is one of only 4 counties in the state with a county-wide mosquito control program. It's costly to the tune of almost 2.5 million dollars annually, but it has it's benefits. Protection from mosquito-borne disease is the main one says Randy Knepper, the director of the program in Saginaw County.
"In 1975 we had an outbreak of St. Louis encephalitis. The directive of the health department was that we had to do something to control mosquitoes," he says. "Recently there was West Nile virus that has come across the U.S.".
At the height of it's outbreak the West Nile virus killed 51 people in Michigan in 2002. Saginaw County can actually identify individual pools of water that contain the virus and kill the mosquitoes before they ever fly. The protection is valuable, but how valuable?
On a property tax bill for a $175,000 home mosquito control costs you $55.27 on your annual tax bill. It doesn't sound like much, except it is more than law enforcement ($37.57) and other important items like hospital subsidies ($22.14).
Resident we talked to were surprised by the difference but were reluctant to say mosquito control isn't worth it. Saginaw County residents will get a chance to decide in 2014, when the program's 20 year millage finally expires.