New code enforcement officer dedicated to rodent control and public sanitation results in nearly 200 new dumpster licenses

somervillelogoThe new Code Enforcement Officer hired by the City of Somerville’s Inspectional Services in October has yielded demonstrable results after only months on the job, as part of the city’s war on rodents.

Since October, the Code Enforcement Officer has visited businesses throughout the city to inspect their dumpsters, resulting in the licensing of 193 previously unregistered dumpsters in accordance with local health regulations. Regularly inspecting dumpsters and ensuring they have been properly maintained and cleaned denies rodents a food source, a critical part of controlling the rodent population. Businesses and property owners with dumpsters are receiving guidance on Board of Health sanitation requirements as part of the dumpster registration process. The Code Enforcement Officer will continue daily inspections of dumpsters, in addition to regular enforcement responding to calls and complaints.

“This is a strategically targeted initiative to reduce the rodent population that has been shown to be very effective elsewhere. But this is just one part of our new Integrated Pest Management Plan. You have to address this problem from a number of different angles because no one issue is the sole cause,” said Director of Inspectional Services Goran Smiljic. “The new plan builds upon and expands previous rodent control efforts with a number of new and innovative tools that each take on a different aspect of the problem. Cities across the northeast are struggling with how to address the increase in the rat population that the warmer winters have created in the last couple of years, and we feel a holistic approach that addresses a range of factors at once is the best.”

Along with the dedicated Code Enforcement Officer leading the charge on dumpster tracking, inspections and licensing, the City’s Integrated Pest Management Plan includes providing free rodent control for qualifying residential properties; uniform residential trash barrels with closed lid requirements coupled with increased trash ordinance enforcement; testing of rodent fertility management found highly effective as piloted by the New York City subway system; and the founding of the interdepartmental Rodent Action Team (RAT) to accelerate rodent control efforts.

“We’re off to a fast start in tackling one of the significant factors that can create a rodent problem,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “Along with other initiatives included in our aggressive new Pest Management Plan that builds on previous rodent control efforts, we are tackling this problem from every angle and with every resource. We’ve committed to this aggressive, comprehensive plan, and with the help of the community we will lead the way in municipal pest management.”

The Board of Aldermen approved the hiring of the Code Enforcement Officer as part of Mayor Curtatone’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal in June, following the recommendations of a 2010 report on Inspectional Services ordered by Mayor Curtatone. The report cited the need for additional staff to handle the department’s increasing workload to create more efficiency and accuracy, which dovetails with Mayor Curtatone’s ACE (Accurate, Courteous, Easy) customer service initiative. Also included in the budget were two new junior clerks for Inspectional Services, bringing additional customer service assistance, more efficient internal processing operations, and the necessary administrative support for increases in city permits, licenses, and inspections, along with more efficient data and project file management.

– City of Somerville


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