The city of Springfield might spend up to $440,000 on road salt this winter due to a price spike that follows a harsh winter.
That cost is nearly twice what the city has spent on average for salt in the past decade.
Salt is necessary to keep roads safe in winter weather, even though the expenditure stings, City Manager Jim Bodenmiller said.
“We’re still a little shocked by (the cost),” he said. “It’s a pretty substantial increase. If there’s any good news, I’m hearing other cities were getting even higher bids than that, and several places didn’t get any bids at all.”
Springfield city commissioners agreed last week to purchase up to 5,500 tons of rock salt at a cost of more than $80 per ton through the Ohio Department of Transportation Cooperative Purchasing Program, for an expenditure of up to $440,000.
That’s a 45 percent price increase. Last year, the city bought salt for about $55 a ton and spent about $209,000.
The city has already spent $167,000 on salt this year from last winter.
The city’s average salt expenditure over the past 10 years is about $234,000. The largest previous purchase in that time frame was about $378,000 in 2011.
The contract will allow the city to purchase at least 4,500 tons of salt and have the right to purchase up to 5,500 tons of salt, according to City Service Director Chris Moore.
There’s nothing different about the timing of the purchase or the amount of salt bought this year, Moore said, but the cost per ton jumped due to the harsh weather last winter.
“The severity of the weather we experienced here wasn’t limited to just here or the Miami Valley or Southwest Ohio,” he said. “It was very widespread. It put a demand on salt for a large part of the country.”
The barn at the City Service Center on Lagonda Avenue has about 1,100 tons of salt remaining in it from last winter, Moore said. Last year, the city used more than 5,200 tons of salt.
The salt season typically runs from mid-November to mid-March, Moore said. Some years the season begins as early as Halloween and goes as late as early April.
The salt budget is prepared in July and is based on what’s in currently in the salt barn, he said. The goal is to have enough salt to cover the largest winter based on historical data for Springfield.
In 2002-03, the city used more than 6,560 tons of salt, the largest total in the past 22 years. It also surpassed 6,000 tons in 2007-08 and 2010-11.
In 2011-12, the city used more than 2,000 tons. It went through nearly 3,700 tons in 2012-13.
In the past 22 years, the city has averaged about 3,460 tons per year. But if it bought salt supplies based on that average, Moore said the city would be setting itself up for failure.
“That’s why you have a large barn, so if you have too much, you can save it and use it for next year,” Moore said. “You have a little bit of wiggle room.”