Salt prices soar for local communities

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Mahoning County road departments may have to pay the highest cost ever for road salt this year.

Mahoning County Engineer Patrick Ginnetti said the bid for salt for all government deliveries is up to $150 per ton this year, which is a more than 500 percent increase.

“We were expecting the winter purchase to be in the upper 30s, which would have been doable for us. But when it came in at almost $150 per ton, there is no way we can do that,” Ginnetti said.

The higher price means Mahoning County rejected the state price and has to come up with a new plan for snow and ice removal.

“If we buy the same amount of salt as we did last year, which we do every year, we would essentially be able to do no projects next year, which would mean no paving, no patching,” Ginnetti said. “So basically what that has done is forced our hand into looking into alternative methods of de-icing the roads. We don’t have that solution yet.”

Austintown Township Administrator Michael Dockery said the township is going to get the salt it needs, but there will be a price to pay.

“The higher price will eat into next year’s resurfacing, which I have estimated at an extra $290,000. That would pretty much reduce our resurfacing by 50 percent,” Dockery said.

A statement from Boardman Township Road Superintendent Larry Wilson said the high prices has prompted the township to opt out of the state cooperative purchasing program.

“While the cost of road salt in 2013-2014 was $27.50 per ton, the cost for the upcoming season when purchasing through the state program is $146.18 per ton, an increase of nearly 525 percent,” Wilson said.

He said the township has purchased summer fill salt at a cost of $42 per ton, and will have a 4,500-ton supply on hand for this winter. In an effort to extend the salt, the summer fill will be mixed with aggregate for application on township roads this winter, which he said may not be as effective during heavy snow events.

“Due to the exceptionally severe winter, we used 7,500 tons of salt in 2013-2014,” said Wilson. “Typical usage is closer to 5,000 tons. We’re hoping for milder conditions this winter.”

The Morton company supplies Mahoning County with salt through the statewide bid program. Morton would not comment for this story, but their competitor, Cargill, said the entire industry is reeling from last year’s winter.

“Huge volumes, near record volumes, of road salt were used last winter and as a result, there was very little left over from last winter coming into the new season. At the same time, demand for the coming year is huge,” Mark Klein from Cargill said.

Cargill said the mines are already working to get a head start on the winter supply.

Salt bins are full across Mahoning County. The road departments said they have enough salt on hand to keep the roads safe for at least one or two severe storms.

Trumbull County saw a 300 percent increase in their costs for salt.

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