Phone calls from the public as to when the county mosquito plane will begin spraying was the subject of debate among commissioners and the mosquito control office Monday.

Mosquito Control Director Patrick Beebe presented a detailed list of progress met and delays still to be challenged. Although installation of a GPS system in the plane is complete, and parts ordered to repair a leak discovered on the initial test flight, insurance requirements remain to be finalized for the plane, hangar and chemicals used.

Also, Beebe said, the pilot hired a month ago still must transfer his license status from commercial to non-commercial.

“After two weeks of inquiries, we finally got our first e-mail today as to the type of license he needs,” Beebe said.

County Judge Carl Thibodeaux wondered why the position of loader (to handle the chemicals) was just now being advertised for, when commissioners approved the position July 21. Commissioner Beamon Minton suggested training someone “in-house” for a temporary position to help get the plane into service faster.

“I’ve been getting those calls [from the public] too,” Beebe told Thibodeaux.

“Well I think this has taken far too long and that’s how I feel about it,” Thibodeaux said. “We’ll talk about this later.”

Beebe added, “And I encourage that. Any kind of help or suggestions you can offer would be appreciated.”

A little less than 339,000 county acres have been sprayed in individual treatments since the start of spray season, Beebe said, adding that larval development was normal for this time of year.

The highest concentrations were found in roadside ditches on both the east and west sides of the county.

In other business, commissioners set public hearings for 10 a.m. Sept. 4 and 8 in the commissioners’ courtroom to discuss this year’s proposed tax rate of .52695. “That’s about 6 percent above the effective rate, but less than last year’s rate,” Commissioner John Dubose said.

Thibodeaux added, “These are just public hearings. Sept. 8 is when the actual adoption date will be announced.”

By law, commissioners cannot adopt a rate higher than what is proposed.