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Road salt prices expected to skyrocket

Scott Seitz2 • Jun 16, 2014 at 11:53 PM

The last thing local residents probably want to think about is winter weather.

But, for city and county officials, now is the time to develop a strategy involving road salt.

At last Tuesday's Norwalk city council meeting, Josh Snyder, public works director, presented a resolution stating the city plans to order salt through a cooperative purchasing program with the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Norwalk paid $36.47 per ton last winter.

Snyder anticipates prices to be much higher this year.

"I wouldn't be surprised," he said. "Salt is a commodity and they (salt suppliers) know people need it.

"There are so many variables out of our control," Snyder added. "The No. 1 thing is weather that will drive the price."

Norwalk used close to 1,400 tons of salt last winter.

"We had a similar situation after the 2007 winter going into 2008," Snyder said. "The price per ton was $42 in 2007 and jumped to $74 in 2008. I anticipate a similar jump this year."

The city has between 200 and 300 tons left over from last winter, Snyder said.

Norwalk will order 1,500 tons of salt once council approves the resolution.

Joe Kovach, engineer, said Huron County does not go through ODOT when ordering salt.

The county paid about $33 per ton last year.

"We're watching other counties bid now," Kovach said. "We're just sort of waiting ad seeing what happens with the prices."

Kovach said Auglaize County, which paid $41 per ton last year, received prices ranging from $69 to $91 per ton this year.

"We're hearing it could be double or triple the cost of last year," Kovach said.

The salt docks in Sandusky, Cleveland and Toledo supply this area.

The county has about 1,000 tons of salt in storage.

"We're looking to take another 2,500 tons," Kovach said.

The county stores salt at the highway department in Norwalk and also at bins in Ripley Township and DeRussey Road.

"We used about 4,000 tons last year," Kovach said. "We'd like to build another storage area near Willard. But, the cost of doing that is about $80,000."

Kovach said the county is bracing for high salt prices.

"I'm not hearing good news," he said. "I figured the price would go up because nobody had it last year. We had a terrible, terrible winter. It's really a supply-and-demand thing.

"Auglaize County's prices were not quite double, but that's still ugly," the engineer said.

"The more salt we buy, the less money we have for paving," he said. "Building bridges and paving is our priority right now."

The townships and Willard get salt through the county, Kovach said.

Snyder said it's not really feasible for Norwalk and Huron County to order salt together.

"The issue is, we take such a large quantity," Snyder said. "It would be really hard to measure out the quantity we take without any scales."

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