Price of road salt doubling
MARION — Williamson County will pay nearly double the price of road salt purchased a year ago for winter storm application.
The Board of Commissioners approved a bid recently that was submitted by Midwest Salt of Batavia for 625 tons of road salt at $111 per ton.
The county paid about $57 per ton in 2013 through a bidding process conducted by Illinois Department of Central Management (CMS) of private vendors.
County officials received word from CMS in July that bids for road salt had to be resubmitted because of high prices and product availability.
“The state, through CMS, seeks bids from private vendors to serve local governments,” said CMS spokesperson Mike Claffey. “The state itself is not the seller. We do this to assist the locals so that they can benefit from the economies of scale.”
Because of harsh and lengthy snow and ice last winter, salt supplies throughout the state were depleted. It affected private vendors’ prices, which increased from $70 to $140 per ton, Claffey said.
He said of the 562 government bodies, including Williamson County, that participated in the initial bidding, 367 received bids and 195 did not receive bids. CMS offered to resubmit bids for those 195 government bodies including Williamson County.
Greg Smothers, Williamson County Highway Engineer, said county officials decided to advertise and receive their own bids.
“With CMS offering to rebid, there was a chance we would not receive a bid again or pay something like $150 per ton,” Smothers said. “We had no control over the situation.”
There was also potential problems in preparation and scheduling through a CMS bid re-submission.
“CMS said they will not know about the rebids until the end of September or first of October. Trying to schedule delivery then becomes complicated,” Smothers said.
The Midwest Salt is due to arrive at the county highway yard later this month or early September, he said.
“This is a problem everyone is having,” Smothers said. “Salt is hard to come by. It’s very expensive and no one knows what to expect for the upcoming winter.”
Smothers said the county highway department already has about 600 tons of salt available. During a normal winter, anywhere from 900 to 1,000 tons is used. During the 2013-14 winter, more than 1,200 tons of salt was spread on Williamson County roads, he said.
“Once the (salt) prices drop which they will, we can always purchase more. We will also be using other materials such as turkey grit and sand mixed in with the salt when it is needed,” said county Commissioner Brent Gentry.
Board Chairman Ron Ellis said the county can help supply winter salt needs for some of its smaller villages and communities.