NYC cutting back on 'Rat Patrol' due to costs

March 31, 2010 3:35:39 PM PDT
New York City's ongoing rat problem is about to get a whole lot worse. It's all because of the city's latest round of budget cuts, and it is eliminating 70 percent of its pest control workers.

They are on the front line in the battle against a booming rat population and things could get really ugly.

After 42 years in her ground-floor Soundview apartment, Mercedes Rivera told Eyewitness News the rats have come from behind the kitchen sink, below the kitchen sink and through the kitchen floor.

"They've ruined my clothes, my bread," Rivera said, "I've had to put everything in plastic."

Rivera says the proposal to save the city $1.5 million by cutting two-thirds of the health department's pest control workers is, well, poisonous.

City leaders say the proposed cuts will lead to a revamped approach that focuses on properties with significant rat problems. Eyewitness News is told the result will not lead to more rats.

"The agency will restructure the pest control lot cleaning program, while maintaining capacity to respond to situations needing immediate attention," a health department spokesperson said.