Vermin worried about a quick solution to Pittsburgh's budget mess need twitch no more.
The city's four-man rodent control team was disbanded in last summer's layoffs, and there are no imminent plans for a reunion, says city Public Works Director Guy Costa. Instead, the city is tacking rodent control on to the lot cleanup contract held by private City Source Associates, based Downtown. It's not, however, paying City Source much more than the usual $800,000 it gets to clear 3,800 vacant, city-owned lots. "We feel City Source can handle this," Costa says.
Rodents in condemned buildings may be even safer -- provided they don't attempt any major remodeling jobs. On March 31, city council tentatively approved a $535,000 budget for demolition of condemned buildings. City Chief Building Inspector Ron Graziano said that would allow him to raze just 90 buildings this year -- down from 350 to 400 in a normal year. "If it's not leaning or moving, it's probably not going to be razed," said Graziano.
"With some of the rodent problems we've been having, some of these buildings might be moving, to a degree," quipped Council President Gene Ricciardi.
The city's two state-appointed financial overseers, meanwhile, do not appear to be scurrying to find quick solutions to the budget crisis. The team of lawyers and accountants appointed under state Act 47 to straighten out the budget mess told the Post-Gazette that they won't likely have new revenues in place in time to open the city swimming pools and recreation centers. (A private consortium, called Save Our Summer, is trying to raise money to open some of those facilities.)
The Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority -- also known as the oversight board -- learned on March 31 that a complete city shutdown isn't likely until Christmas, contrary to press reports that it was possible by September. The board moved quickly to dampen expectations regarding their initial report, expected to be released on April 9. "To try to operate under a panic scenario and send recommendations back to the legislature that are specific would be irresponsible," said oversight board Chairman Jim Smith.
The rodents, no doubt, were relieved.