By Steve Bousquet of theTimes/Herald Tallahassee Bureau, 08/08/2016:

TALLAHASSEE — In his fight against the Zika virus, Gov. Rick Scott’s strongest allies are county mosquito control boards, the “boots on the ground” stretching from Key West to Pasco County to Panama City.

But Scott once targeted them for possible extinction, calling the local mosquito fighters a major “tax burden” of dubious benefit to taxpayers. …

At Zika roundtable forums around the state, Scott makes sure local mosquito officials have seats at the table — as they did in Panama City last week where he described them as “really quality people, all over the state.” …

Four years ago, after Scott wiped out thousands of regulations that he said stifled job creation, he demanded a review of 1,600 special districts to ensure that they “operate in a transparent manner and be fiscally accountable in order to safeguard the public interest.”

“Though many may not realize it,” Scott said at the time, “some of Florida’s greatest tax burden on families and businesses can be found among the $15.4 billion in revenue taken in by the state’s special taxing districts.”

Scott’s order sent shock waves through an obscure layer of local government that had grown accustomed to being roundly ignored. …

Reflecting on that decision Monday, Scott’s office said of his 2012 order: “He wanted to review all special districts to ensure taxpayer dollars were being put to the best use. The mosquito special districts provide many important functions in local communities and protect Floridians against mosquito-borne diseases. We will continue to work with them to ensure they have all they need to combat Zika.”