South Fork Town Board discusses pest issue

SOUTH FORK— The end of the year meeting held on Dec. 12, 2017 by the South Fork Board of Trustees was packed full of information as the board worked to close out the year.

During the meeting, board members approved the 2018 budget and discussed a wide range of topics in order to finish any business from the year. Town Administrator Dan Hicks walked the board through the last remaining topics before moving on to trustee highlights at the end of the meeting.

One main topic of discussion pertained to the ongoing prairie dog issue in town. Hicks stated that the town had received a final quote from the proposed company that described the project. The company will be using a carbon monoxide machine to treat just over 91 acres in town limits at a cost of $350 per acre, bringing the total just under $32,000. The project includes 18 property owners that will be required to help pay for the cost of treating the animals or asked to deal with the issue on their own by hiring a company privately.

Hicks continued, stating that by the January meeting he will have a formal plan to present to the board for approval, which will include giving property owners a formal notice with a time frame to sign up with the proposed company, deal with the issue privately before the town will move forward on their own and collect the money from property owners as needed. Hicks explained that the proposed 91 acres does not include the town’s property which is about 10 acres of land that will need to be treated.

Trustee Kris Steffens asked if the property owners would be better off going to the company privately to which Hicks explained that if the town has to collect the money from the property owners after the fact, then there will be additional fees attached to the final cost. Hicks clarified that it would be more cost-effective for the property owner to sign up with the company on their own prior to being charged through the town.

“There are two property owners that own the bulk of the land we are looking to treat, while the rest will have portions split between them,” explained Hicks. Trustee Don Spencer asked whether or not the town would include another company for landowners to choose from to which Hicks replied that the proposed company was a certified local pest control company that is using the carbon monoxide machine instead of poison which is why the town has chosen them for the project.

Town Attorney Gene Farish took a moment and explained that the town is well within their legal right to choose the company to deal with the pests and to charge any landowner that does not deal with the issue on their own or sign up for the project with the proposed company.

Spencer continued the conversation clarifying that the property owner can handle the situation on their own and the town would decide whether or not the issue has been resolved once the treatment has been delivered.

Hicks explained that by choosing to go this route the town is choosing to use a solution rather than poison to deal with the issue and are asking property owners for their support in the matter. Reed spoke up stating that the town has had to deal with this issue for many years and that property owners have had an opportunity to fix the problem in the past.

The land that is being proposed for the treatment project is underused or vacant. A final decision will be made at the Jan. 23 meeting.

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