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A shake-down on winter salt

Bureau County will have to pay more for salt supply

PRINCETON — Bureau County will no doubt have to pay quite a bit more for its winter road salt supply this year.

On Monday, Bureau County Highway Department Engineer John Gross said the state’s Department of Central Management Services (CMS) has not released specific information yet, but it has announced bid prices are in the $70 to $140 range per ton.

Last year, Bureau County paid $58 a ton for road salt, so whatever the chosen bid this year, it will be a huge jump in costs for the county, Gross said. The Bureau County Highway Department will need about 2,500 tons of road salt, so that increase amounts to a lot of money. The county has next to no salt left over from last year’s supply, Gross said.

Because of the increased cost, there is a very real possibility the highway department will not be able to do all the road work it should or wants to do to make up for that added cost in road salt, Gross said. There is only so many dollars to go around. The
repercussions can be long-lived, he said.

In explaining the process, Gross said the county submits its request for the amount of needed salt, and the county’s budgeted price for the salt to the CMS. The CMS is the one that accepts the bid, which is to be awarded to the lowest responsible bid. The county does not have a say in the decision, he said.

Hopefully, Bureau County will hear by the end of August from the CMS on what it will have to pay for this winter’s road salt. He will present the new fiscal year’s budget this week to the Transportation Committee for consideration, but that budget may have to be revisited depending on what the CMS does, he said.

On a positive note, at least Bureau County did receive a bid, or bids, for its winter salt supply. Neighboring Lee County was one of 195 communities/governmental bodies statewide, out of 562 applications, which did not receive any bids at all for its winter salt supply. The CMS is allowing those agencies to reapply to the state or to seek bids without its help.

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