Road salt prices skyrocketing

By BRIAN BOHNERT
for the courier
FOSTORIA — Steeper road salt prices could put a major strain on the Fostoria budget this year as city officials scramble to find cheaper sources of salt before winter.
Fostoria City Council on Tuesday authorized Safety Service Director Allyson Murray to begin shopping for road salt after the Ohio Department of Transportation District 2 rejected the state bid for road salt.
Last year, the city of Fostoria purchased salt at $43 per ton, spending nearly $40,000 last winter. Many forecasters are calling for similar weather conditions this year. Murray said if ODOT had accepted the state’s bid of $161.50 per ton, it would have required the city to pay an unheard-of $371,000.
“When you look at going from spending $40,000 to $300,000, there’s just no way to do that without bankrupting the city,” Mayor Eric Keckler said. “So, if we can’t find some different prices, the way we address storms is going to have to change completely. We’re just not going to have the salt to do it.”
During Tuesday night’s meeting, Murray said she is confident she can obtain 400 tons of salt from a Columbus-based company for $125 per ton. The extra supply would bring Fostoria’s total to 800 tons.
“With the city having the budget the way it is, where it’s finally starting to bounce back a little bit, there’s no room in there for an extra $300,000 to come out of the budget,” Keckler said, adding that the city’s hands are pretty much tied. “It could be a winter that none of us are too happy about.”
Separately, two city parks could see some upgrades thanks to a grant from the Hancock Park District.
Council approved a resolution authorizing city officials to apply for roughly $31,000 in grant money through the 2014 Community Parks Improvement Grant Program.
If obtained, the funding would go toward completion of three projects within the Hancock County portion of the city, including the purchase of new swings for the playground at City Park for about $7,000; construction of a new shelter at Gray Park for nearly $20,000; and resealing of the asphalt walkway around Reservoirs 2 and 3 for roughly $4,500.
The resolution was passed with a suspension of the three-reading rule Tuesday evening, so Keckler could submit the application to the park district before next week’s deadline.
If all three projects are accepted, Keckler said the resealing of the walkway around the reservoirs could begin as early as this fall. The other two projects would likely start next summer, depending on how long it takes the city to get estimates.
“If they were to OK the resealing, we’d want to get that done as soon as possible,” Keckler said. “We don’t want that to go another winter.”



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