BLSG is making do without Salisbury funds

SALISBURY — When Salisbury residents voted against paying into the Brandon Leicester Salisbury Goshen Insect Control District (BLSG) this past Town Meeting Day, they created an unforeseen problem. Opting out of the insect control district is an unprecedented move and it was not covered in its bylaws when the district was established in 1978.
“There’s a whole lot of real mystery as to what happens next,” said Jeff Schumann, a Salisbury representative to the BLSG and also president of the Lake Dunmore Fern Lake Association. “The bylaws are really silent about all of this.”
Schumann said all the bylaws do say is that if a member municipality fails to pay its dues to the BLSG, the board “may suspend services.” Salisbury was paying $25,000 annually for BLSG services as a member municipality; the same amount it elected not to fund in the next fiscal year starting July 1.
But there is time to figure out a way forward. The current fiscal year ends June 30, so Salisbury is paid up until then, Schumann said, adding that the larvacide program in Salisbury’s swamps would be covered this spring at the very least.
At its March meeting, the BLSG board voted to form a small committee comprised on one rep from each town to look at the bylaws and propose an update that will address when a town opts out of the district.
“We want to see if we can draft something to cover this situation and future situations like this,” Schumann said. “Then we’ll have it reviewed by an attorney.”
He emphasized that the board wants to move carefully and mindfully as it negotiates uncharted territory.
“The BLSG will revisit the Salisbury issue at our May meeting,” Schumann said. “We kind of all agreed we needed some time to think about this. Then, at the May meeting, we’ll decide next steps.”
At issue is the adulticide mosquito spraying program, which sprays insecticide from trucks during the summer to keep the mosquito population down around Lake Dunmore and the surrounding area. That is distinct from the district’s and state’s larvacide program, which treats swampy areas with pellets that dissolve into the water to kill the eggs of mosquitoes before they hatch. Some mosquitos in Vermont carry West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, the latter killing a Sudbury man and a Brandon man, and at least two horses, in 2011.
Many of the residents in Salisbury who voted against paying into the BLSG said they were against spraying adulticide due to health and/or environmental concerns. There has been a robust debate over what those dangers are, as the state sanctions the spraying of the adulticide according to federal EPA guidelines. Anyone living in a spray zone can opt out of being sprayed by submitting a no-spray request in writing to the BLSG.
Also, the larvacide program, which is funded by the state through a reimbursement to the BLSG of $70,000 annually, could grow but only if the state agreed to send more funds, Schumann said.
So, there is a lot to discuss, Schumann said, but time to hammer it all out.
“Salisbury is not saying, ‘We are out of the BLSG,’” he said. “They’re saying ‘We’re not paying it this year,’ and the bylaws don’t say, ‘if you don’t pay, you don’t get services.’ So we’re like: ‘How do we handle this?’”
Answers to those questions should be forthcoming by the May meeting, Schumann said.
For more information on the BLSG, visit To opt out of spraying in any of the BLSG member towns, make a request in writing to BLSG, P.O. Box 188, Brandon, VT. 05733. Submit a detailed map of your property, such as a tax map, to request being designated as a “No-Spray Zone.” Typically this is done before the start of the mosquito season, but No Spray Zones can be added at any time.

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