For Palatine residents, last winter’s titanic amounts of ice and snow may be a bad memory, but the winter is still having an effect on the village’s budget.
The village council on Monday night approved the purchase of 3,000 tons of road salt at a rate of $85.30 per ton, for a total of $256,000. Last year, before the epic winter, the village paid $53.71 per ton.
Had that rate been the same this summer, the village would have had to shell out only $161,130.
Public Works Director Matt Barry said the cost rose in part because less salt is available after so much was used last winter.
“It wasn’t just in this region. Throughout the states the winter of ’13-14 consumed a significant amount of rock salt,” Barry said. “Because of that, this is not just a collar county issue; this is more of a national issue.”
Village Manager Reid Ottesen said the 3,000-ton purchase brings the village’s salt stock to around 5,000 tons, about the minimum village officials feel comfortable with going into any winter. The village is seeking to acquire more rock salt, he said.
“Otherwise we will be getting very creative in our management of salt usage over the winter,” Ottesen said.
Barry said the village hopes to obtain more rock salt by joining a mass bid with many other suburban municipalities put together by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The village tried to purchase salt through a similar mass bid organized by IDOT earlier in the summer, but no salt vendors came through. Barry said vendors failed to respond likely because they did not have enough salt on hand to meet demand.
The village public works has space for only around 2,000 tons of rock salt, so the space behind the old Menards store, which is owned by the village, will be used.
Barry said the village saves a considerable amount of money by storing the rock salt itself until it is needed.
“If we didn’t have the ability to store it, there would have been an additional $10-per-ton premium to have the distributor store it for the village,” Barry said.
But he said that because the village is in the process of selling the old Menards store, storing huge piles of rock salt behind it is not seen as a long-term solution.
Ottesen said the village is considering increasing the amount of rock salt storage next year.