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The Dripby Danielle Sweeney7:08 pmAug 19, 20150

City issues correction about effectiveness of its trash can program

Rat “rubout” requests dropped by 26%, not 75%, in a pilot program touted by the mayor

Above: A dead rat lies on Holliday Street across from City Hall.

A cup of cold water was poured on Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s announcement on Monday that she was expanding a trash can program citywide because it had reduced rat “rubout” (extermination) requests by nearly 75% in pilot areas.

The mayor used the wrong number.

A correction was sent out this afternoon by the Department of Public Works, which had issued Monday’s press release lauding the pilot program.

“The actual decrease was 26%, which is still a very positive number that demonstrates the success this program has had in making Baltimore a cleaner city. This error was caused by an inversion of the actual percentages, i.e., human error,” Kurt Kocher, DPW spokesman said in the statement.

The pilot, which began last October, focused on Greater Mondawmin and Belair-Edison and included 9,000 homes that received a wheeled municipal can with an electronic tracking device and a recycling bin.

High Number of Requests

The Brew contacted DPW yesterday for some more data on the program’s effectiveness in one of the pilot neighborhoods, Belair-Edison.

The neighborhood seemed to have some of the highest rat extermination requests in the city – even after the new trash can program had been instituted.

Kocher said that Belair-Edison residents had submitted 434 rat rubout requests last year and 212 so far this year.

“That number is on pace to be around 310-320, which is a decline of about one quarter from the previous year,” Kocher said in an email.

Announcing her plan for citywide municipal garbage cans, Rawlings-Blake cited the 75% figure and said, “The results of the pilot confirmed what we thought: Well-designed, well-built trash cans are easy for citizens to use and are easier for our solid-waste crews to handle.”

The new program would not cost residents because the cans would remain the property of the city. The cost to the city has been estimated at $10 million or more.

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