West Allis to crack down on rodent, garbage problem

City will ticket sloppy residents who don't clean up

March 25, 2014

West Allis — Within a month, a crackdown on those who invite rodents by leaving garbage around will come in West Allis with fines to get the cleanup message through.

Driven by an increasing rat problem on the city's east side that some say is spreading to other areas, the Common Council has ordered increased enforcement of city rules aimed at keeping garbage and trash away from animals.

Normally the city has bent over backward for residents, giving them chance after chance. But there can be no more Mister Nice Guy, said Michael Lewis, public works director.

The clear direction from the city Public Works Committee last week was strict enforcement with almost no mercy, he said.

"That's what we'll do," Lewis said.

Training of Public Works personnel in ticketing procedures should be finished within a month and sloppy residents will start getting tickets then, Lewis said.

The size of those tickets is likely to be $100 or $200 per day, he said. That has to be determined as do the details of how to implement the crackdown, he said. City codes give a leeway of up to $1,000 per day.

To give residents a cheap out, the city is holding a sale on city trash carts. A large 96-gallon cart can be purchased for $30.

The direction for a crackdown came as the Public Works Committee held its third consideration of a request to make all residents buy city trash carts as a way to fight the rodent problem.

Alderman Vincent Vitale, whose district includes east side areas where the rats have become a problem, has spearheaded the drive for mandatory trash containers.

"People don't have the proper container," in many cases and that causes the problem, Vitale said. Metal garbage cans often don't have lids, he said, "Which is totally inappropriate." Trash containers that are too small are another problem at many duplexes, Vitale said.

More than 70 percent of homes already have trash carts, officials estimate, and Vitale was eager to expand that to the remaining 30 percent.

But his fellow aldermen are divided.

"The people are the problem, because they're not doing what they're supposed to do," said Alderwoman Rosalie Reinke. Enforcement is the way to go, she said.

"Put the addresses down, get in there and cite them," Reinke said.

Then the people who are the problem will be the people who have to buy the carts, Alderman Marty Weigel said.

The committee agreed to give enforcement a chance through the summer. If garbage is still accessible to rodents, the city will reconsider mandatory trash carts.

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