ARLINGTON -- Mosquitoes are sucking more money out of city coffers than ever before.
On Tuesday, the Arlington City Council approved up to an additional $75,000 to combat mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus.
The city initially set aside $25,000 this year to test mosquitoes for the virus, to apply larvicide in standing water and to do ground spraying in affected areas.
That's expected to run out before the end of the West Nile virus season this fall.
"We want to be sure we have the capacity to do whatever we need to do quickly," said Jim Parajon, interim deputy city manager, adding that the city has already spent more than $20,000.
Because of the outbreak's severity, Parajon said, this is the first time in at least five years that Arlington has hired a contractor to help the city's health services staff with mosquito control.
As of Wednesday, Arlington had reported 58 human cases of West Nile virus.
A wetter spring and summer may have contributed to the increase in mosquitoes, officials said.
"Over the last few years, we haven't had to spend significant portions of funds because it hasn't been a substantive issue with our drought issues," Parajon said.
Fortunately, the rate of new human cases in Arlington has fallen in the past few weeks.
City officials attribute that to aggressive application of larvicide in standing water, as well as public education efforts to help prevent mosquito bites.
Residents are encouraged to stay indoors at dusk and dawn, dress in long sleeves and pants, use insect repellent and drain standing water on their property.
"We believe that had a significant impact our on our experience in Arlington," Fire Chief Don Crowson said. "We had some pretty good indicators that we are doing better."
The additional funds will be used to continue sampling and testing and remediation through the end of the year, Parajon said.
The season typically runs through early fall but can last later in the southern region's milder temperatures, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"I wouldn't make the assumption that the extra dollars means we are going to do more ground spraying," Parajon said.
"We would only do targeted ground spraying when we have current conditions that have warranted that."
Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578