More money OK’d for rat abatement

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published September 25, 2013

ST. CLAIR SHORES — City Council approved another $190,000 to spend on rodent abatement in the city, bringing the total spent for the year to $230,000.

Councilman John Caron pointed out that the price is almost double what the city has paid for inspection and abatement services in past years.

Community Development and Inspection Director Chris Rayes said the increase is due to a change in the way residents are billed for the service and projections based on past use. But some council members expressed concern that the increased amount meant the city was proceeding with a neighborhood-wide project to combat rodents.

Councilwoman Candice Rusie said council had been told that administration was planning to begin pursuing a program for neighborhood baiting. She was afraid that could lead to “entering into people’s backyards without the express consent to do so.”

She was referring to a plan to send letters to different neighborhoods where rats were a problem, stating that the city would like to come in to inspect and bait the entire neighborhood, and that anyone who did not want to participate would have to return the form.

Not returning the letter would be construed as consent in that case, she said.

“I don’t like the idea of entering people’s backyards without their express consent to do so,” she said.

Rusie said she had been told that contractors would not be knocking before entering a homeowners’ yard and would not have to respect no-trespassing signs.

“I have big issues with this as a potential violation of people’s property rights,” she said.

City Manager Phillip Ludos explained that policy was not yet in place, and he thinks the proposed letter needs to be restructured before it is used. The increase in cost, he said, is to meet the increased need for rate abatement services in the city.

Rayes said since council approved the first purchase order for rodent control services in July, the city had already spent $20,000 per month on baiting — even without the neighborhood program.

Because of that, Mayor Kip Walby said the money would likely be used even without implementation of a new program.

And Ludos promised the neighborhood-wide program was not a done deal.

“We’re not going to implement it until I have a chance to refine it,” he said. “Before we even go forward with this, I definitely want to establish how our inspectors are going to be making this happen.”

A motion approving the $190,000 expenditure for rodent control services was approved unanimously by City Council Sept. 16.