Salt Deal Could Save Big Bucks for Kane County

Salt Deal Could Save Big Bucks for Kane County

We all remember the WINTER OF 2013-14, the 22 DAYS OF SUB-ZERO TEMPERATURES, the 87 INCHES OF SNOW, the dread that crept into our hearts at the mere mention of the words “POLAR VORTEX.

It was a winter worthy of ALL-CAPS.

We also remember how difficult it was to get around town and that there never seemed to be enough salt for the roads.

Kane County is doing something about that, right now, in September, by locking in prices and ensuring that it and township road commissioners can get their hands on the salt they need for THE WINTER OF 2014-15.

The Kane County Transportation Committee on Tuesday gave a thumbs up for a resolution that will allow KDOT to purchase its salt earlier than it usually might in order to lock in significant savings — upwards of $250,000 for this year alone.

“It’s not that the world is out of salt, it’s the logistics of getting it there,” KDOT Director Carl Schoedel said in a brief phone interview. “Knowing there was a huge shortage last year, and everybody’s stockpiles are depleted, we wanted to put our order in before the rush.”

It is estimated that the Kane County Division of Transportation will purchase 11,470 tons of ice control salt for the 2014-15 winter season, and the state of Illinois Bulk Rock Salt Contract allows for the purchase of up to 13,764 tons of rock salt.

The county is exercising an option with Cargill Inc. to extend the existing contract term for one additional year until November 2015 with an increase of 5 percent above last season’s $51.31 price for a total $53.88 per ton.

“We had never taken advantage of that option before,” Schoedel said. “Up until this year, we let the market conditions work, and we’d still get a good price.”

Schoedel said those who don’t sign up for the program probably are looking at $70 to $120 a ton, “so locking in is a good part of the story.”

The county also uses a pre-mixed de-icing rock salt (ice control salt), which needs a chemical application at an additional cost per ton. Staff anticipates placing some orders early, probably in October or November, to assure a good start for delivery of salt and allow the vendor to restock its storage location to better meet the demand later on.

A third advantage is that the program allows Kane County to get more salt. The way the state bid works, KDOT sends in a requisition amount, and is required to purchase a minimum of 80 percent of that, but KDOT has the option to purchase up to 120 percent of that amount at the locked-in price.

Another piece of good news for taxpayers is that 15 of the 16 township road departments in Kane County collaborate with KDOT each year for the purchase of salt.

“We get a larger quantity, so hopefully we get a better price and a little more flexibility on that 80 to 120 thing,” Schoedel said. “We can sort of take care of each other.”

According to the resolution, the maximum commitment is $1,057,270. Of that, $990,000 would be paid from the MFT (Motor Fuel Tax) Local Option Fund and $67,270 from a County Matching Fund.

The proposal next goes to the Executive Committee and then the full Kane County Board for approval.