The village of North Riverside is aiming to comprehensively address rat infestations, not just in the village’s commercial districts but also in residential areas after an uptick in complaints in the past couple of years.

In May, Village Administrator Sue Scarpiniti outlined a program during a meeting of the village board’s development committee that would include creating a registry of extermination companies working within the village and hiring a third-party vendor to provide both pest control services in public areas and conduct random inspections to make sure privately hired exterminators are doing their jobs.

The program, whose details are still being worked out and could be considered by the full village board for approval either later this month or in July, would also allow the village’s third-party vendor to issue code violation tickets to exterminators for not meeting minimum standards. At worst an exterminator could have its business license pulled.

The new program would also include a public education campaign to urge residents to refrain from making residential areas attractive to rats by making food easily available.

“With abatement control, it’s a cooperative effort,” Scarpiniti said. “We need everybody to work together for the common goal, otherwise we’re really competing against one another.”

The village can put out as many traps as they want in an area where there’s increased rat activity, Scarpiniti said, “but if we don’t have a buy-in from the residents that are actually attracting those animals into the area through the feeding, we’re just kind of going around and around, and we’re wasting dollars because it’s really not controlling the issue at hand.”

Scarpiniti proposed using a company called First Illinois Systems, which the village currently uses on a contract basis for targeted rat control. Scarpiniti said she had reached out to a number of companies about the program but that First Illinois Systems was the only one to respond with a qualified proposal. First Illinois Systems also was a good fit for what the village wants to do, Scarpiniti added, because it already provides similar services elsewhere.

First Illinois Systems proposed charging the village $4,400 per quarter ($17,600 per year) to implement the program, which would include both commercial and residential areas of the village.

Some of that expense would be recouped by the village charging fees to register all exterminating companies working in North Riverside. Scarpiniti said there are 16 such companies working in the village right now, and she proposed charging a $250 fee to register those firms.

The village also might realize additional revenue from any fines imposed on those companies for not meeting minimum standards the village intends to set. North Riverside would classify types of business – ranging from restaurants to multifamily residential properties – according to risk and set standards based on those factors.

“One of things we’ve noticed is that although the village does twice-a-year inspections of all restaurants, health inspections are more geared towards the inside of the restaurant,” Scarpiniti said. “They do very little review of property maintenance/code type of issues outside of the property — refuse containers, grease trap areas that are maintained outside the scope of our health inspectors.”

The company the village ends up hiring to run the program would ensure through inspections “that businesses have a minimum pest control program in place and that their exterminators are actually doing the job they’re being hired to do,” Scarpiniti said.

The village would empower the third-party vendor to issue tickets for non-compliance, she added.

Chris Wasicki, an account technician from First Illinois Systems, told elected officials last month that pest control company reports he’s seen from the village’s community development department make it clear “there’s such inconsistencies … that it’s obvious the [rat control] job’s not getting done” in the village’s commercial district in particular.

“I believe that if I can get that commercial area there under control, it’ll create a nice buffer zone between Berwyn, which will then reduce pest pressure in the whole residential area, along with eliminating the wildlife feeding and other contributing factors,” Wasicki said. “It’s not going to take long for me to realize who’s doing their job and who’s not doing their job and who needs more pressure.”