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TOWN AND COUNTY TO ATTACK RODENT PROBLEM WITH BAITING

During the haggling over the Erie County budget, it was not immediately known which Erie County Health Department programs would be cut for lack of money.

That's when the Town of Cheektowaga stepped in and boosted its rodent control program for this year, with plans to spend $50,000 on poison bait for rats in the town.

But it turns out money to combat rats and West Nile virus was left in this year's Erie County budget.

"That was one of the things Dr. Billittier wanted to preserve and was able to at the end," said Health Department spokesman Kevin Montgomery.

He said Dr. Anthony J. Billittier IV, county health commissioner, was able to identify money for the two programs, which are not mandated.

Town Council Member Thomas M. Johnson Jr. said the town would continue with its program. Council Member Alice Magierski said town inspectors still are waiting for confirmation that the county program will continue.

"It will actually enable us to cover more territory," Magierski said. "We will continue because we are committed to getting a handle on this rodent problem."

The town has hired three exterminating firms to place bait at residents' homes. Thomas Adamczak, supervising building inspector, said that should allow the town to treat about 500 homes. But he said the town could get as many as 1,000 complaints this year.

Last year, the town baited 235 homes, and the county left bait at about 650 Cheektowaga properties. The county's policy allows county crews to return to a property as many times as needed, while the town will pay for two visits.

The town decided to pay for exterminators last year after receiving complaints from residents. Magierski said mapping of this year's complaints shows the same hot spots as last year.

"We will still be committed to using the funding we have set aside," Magierski said. "We are committed to severely reducing this rodent population."

The town has already started sending out permission slips to property owners to allow the exterminators to bait on private property.

"What we'll do is work together so there's not any duplication," Magierski said.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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