With a full complement of elected officials at the board table, North Riverside trustees voted 4 to 2 on April 18 to approve an ordinance establishing a rat-control program that will be funded largely through fees charged to restaurants and bars, other businesses and the owners of rental properties.

Trustees H. Bob Demopoulos and Marybelle Mandel voted against the measure. While he didn’t say why he voted no on April 18, Demopoulos during a March 14 discussion of the program argued it was unfair to levy a fee against business owners since rat infestations were “a village-wide problem and you’re only targeting a certain class.”

Mandel after casting her no vote on April 18 stated she supported the idea of a program but was against fees.

“If we keep giving them fees, they’re going to pass it on to the consumers, hopefully not have to lay off employees and increase rents for people,” Mandel said.

The fee structure passed by the board is tiered to reflect the impact certain uses have with regard to attracting rodents and other pests. Single-family rentals must pay an annual fee of $100, with multifamily buildings, non-foodservice commercial uses of less than 40,000 square feet and churches being charged $150 annually.

Restaurants not located inside North Riverside Park Mall, schools and recreation centers as well as multifamily buildings and commercial uses of more than 40,000 square feet must pay an annual fee of $250.

Any place serving or selling food with occupancy rated over 500 people has to pay a $500 annual fee. The only place fitting that description in the village is North Riverside Park Mall. 

Mall food court businesses, including the one owned by Demopoulos, will not be charged individually as part of the program.

The owner of any business, institution or rental property found to be in violation of the ordinance faces fines of up to $500 per day.

The fees are meant to cover the cost of administering the program, which requires each business to hire a pest-control business and to hand over to the village its inspection logs and records of service calls.

Single-family and multifamily residential properties must conduct inspections quarterly. Churches as well as non-food commercial/industrial uses and multifamily buildings (5 or more units) of less than 40,000 square feet must conduct inspections monthly.

Schools, recreation facilities, restaurants, non-food commercial/industrial uses and multifamily buildings (5 or more units) of more than 40,000 square feet must be inspected every two weeks.

North Riverside Park Mall must conduct inspections on a weekly basis.

The village has hired a company called First Illinois Systems, which it pays $4,410 per quarter, to conduct inspections in the village generally and track infestations. It would be the company responsible for administering the rat-control program for the village.

North Riverside has already spent a good deal of money attempting to mitigate a rat infestation problem that has been a particular problem on the village’s east end, but which has now spread to other areas.

Last fall, Village Administrator Sue Scarpiniti said the village had spent $20,000 during the prior year on rat mitigation.

It is hoped that the new program will prod commercial and rental property owners to make a more concerted, systematic effort to mitigate the problem.