Rat patrol clever initial step by city
Normally, our reaction to city hall spending is, “Oh, rats.” (OK, sometimes it’s a little worse than that.) But on the city’s rat problem, city staff have — surprise! — found a way to approach a problem in a novel way.
Between 2015 and ’16, city hall had more than 1,500 complaints about rats. But the problem is, we don’t actually know how many rats are really scuttling around town.
So the city is going to track them. You need good information before you devise a strategy to confront pesky varmints (if, indeed, they are that much of a pest).
This is where city staff got clever. Instead of spending a bunch of our tax dollars on who-knows-what, the city has decided to use existing technology to film the rats.
The system, which uses closed-circuit TV already in place to monitor sewer conditions, will only cost the city as much as a contractor bills to keep count of the furry menaces.
And it’s an existing contractor — not even a new one. So for now, the city says, two years of rat-counting won’t cost us much of anything.
The idea is that this count will give the city a better idea of where the rats are hanging out in the city. Then we’ll know where to go to fight the rat pack.
Rat-counting doesn’t sound like an ideal job to us — but hey, we can’t dispute the cleverness of coming up with a program that is minimally costly. It’s not often the way governments do things. In the meantime, though, some caution. First, there are reports of rats running rampant in parts of town, even some tenants who say their landlords aren’t confronting the creatures.
There’s an individual responsibility here. If there’s slop outside apartments or homes, or filthy garbage cans and general messiness, well, that’s going to make any pest problem worse.
Landlords, tenants and homeowners — not to mention businesses — all have a role to play in keeping the city clean.
Second, the city has saved money through clever thinking, for now. Let’s not assume this’ll translate into an affordable rat-control program.
The city must have a broad-based ratex termination plan, but also a plan on how it’s going to tackle the roots of the rat problem. It needs to approach this smartly.
Otherwise, tax dollars may end up being wasted.
And then, “Oh, rats,” will be the gentlest phrase on the tip of our tongue.