The county will be hit with higher road salt costs this coming winter after last year’s supplies dwindled nationally during extreme conditions.
The county commission recently approved a road salt contract that was about 25 percent higher than last year’s costs, Highway Administrator Joe Feldmann said.
Not only did the cost of salt go up, but the county ordered more this year to make sure it does not run out, which was a concern last winter.
There are about 900 miles of roads in Franklin County. But about 150 miles are gravel and do not receive salt treatment because it can damage that particular surface.
The county commission this month awarded a contract for road salt at $76.06 per ton compared to last year’s cost of $60.32 per ton, Feldmann said.
Last year, the county initially ordered 2,000 tons of road salt for $120,640.
But the county ended up using an estimated 3,000 tons of salt last year, Feldmann said.
The county currently has about 1,000 tons stockpiled and has ordered an additional 2,500 tons for the winter, Feldmann said.
That means the county will have about 3,500 tons of salt available going into the winter.
The 2,500 tons the county ordered recently came to a total cost of $190,150.
Originally, the county considered ordering about 3,000 tons for the winter, but the company has a new requirement that says entities are required to purchase at least 80 percent of what they order, he said.
Previously, the county was not obligated to buy what it did not use, Feldmann said.
To be safe the county reduced its order to 2,500 tons so it would not be on the hook for leftover salt at the end of the winter.
Last year, there were a couple of instances when the county could not get additional salt orders filled immediately because it had gone beyond the 2,000 tons it had ordered, Feldmann explained.
The county had to wait until additional supplies became available, and one time there was about a two-week lag, Feldmann said.
To make sure it has adequate supplies this year, it ordered an additional 500 tons over the 2,000 it ordered last year, he said.
He said the salt shortage is basically a supply and demand issue.
“Even material suppliers are having a hard time getting their loads,” Feldmann said.
The lack of supply was also demonstrated by the fact that the county only got one bid for salt this year compared to four last year.
Feldmann said salt companies may be focused on fulfilling larger salt orders from entities such as the state department of transportation before making bids for smaller governments.
The sole bid this year was from North American Salt Company of Kansas City, which is the same company that supplied the material last winter.
The county also handles road salt orders for cities and road districts, but those entities pay for their own supplies.
Other entities ordered the following amounts of road salt:
Gerald, 50 tons; New Haven, 600 tons; Pacific, 500 tons; Sullivan, 1,200 tons; Union, 600 tons; Washington, 2,000 tons; Sullivan Special Road District, 60 tons; Union Special Road District, 30 tons; Washington Special Road District, 400 tons; and St. Clair, 200 tons.
Union doubled its order this year, the city of Washington added another 950 tons and the Union Special Road District added 20 tons.