Cheektowaga plans to spend more than $50,000 to get rid of rats this year, but that might not be enough.
"That will take us to roughly 500 homes," said Thomas Adamczak, supervising building inspector. "We very easily could hit 1,000 homes."
Monday night, the Town Board is expected to hire three exterminators to handle rodent complaints. Last year, it employed two companies.
"We're going to be handling a lot more rodent complaints," Adamczak said.
The town is trying to compensate for the loss in funding for Erie County's vector control program. Last year, the county left bait at about 650 Cheektowaga properties, while the town baited 235.
"We know we have to carry the burden of rodent baiting," Council Member Alice Magierski said.
Adamczak said his office has received calls complaining about rat infestations since the beginning of the year. He has been taking names and numbers.
"We're probably closing in on 100 homes already townwide," he said.
When the town receives a complaint, inspectors will question the resident on the extent of the problem. They then will visit the property, and if baiting is deemed necessary, the owner must sign a permission form. The town will pay for an initial visit and one follow-up visit by an exterminator.
The town has lined up about $56,000 for the program, which includes $11,000 provided earlier this year by County Legislator Raymond Dusza, D-Cheektowaga. Adamczak said the town hopes to obtain additional funding through Assembly Majority Leader Paul A. Tokasz, D-Cheektowaga, and State Sen. William Stachowski, D-Buffalo.
Magierski said the town is sending follow-up letters to every owner whose property was baited last year and will continue to educate residents about removing sources of food and water as well as shelter areas for rats.
"Communication is very important," she said.
Since garbage is the greatest source of food for rodents, the town strongly recommends placing garbage in metal cans with sealed lids. Rats also eat fruit from trees, untended gardens, compost areas and birdseed and build nests in debris and ground cover.