for the courier

FOSTORIA — Fostoria City Council on Tuesday passed an ordinance to allow the city to purchase 1,000 tons of bulk rock salt without competitive bidding.

Through Holcomb Materials, Port Clinton, the salt will cost $123,000.

According to Safety Service Director Deb Hellman, the city was unable to renew its contract with last year’s supplier due to a shortage in salt.

According to published reports, salt supplies are low due to a harsh winter last year that depleted reserves. Production issues at two major North American salt mines have also contributed to tight supplies.

This decrease in product has increased costs to two or three times more per ton of salt than last year.

However, Fostoria officials are purchasing salt in bulk to ensure the city’s roads are safe this season.

“This plus the carryover from last year puts us right on target for where we were at last year,” Hellman said Tuesday, noting the city used about 1,600 tons of salt last year.

Separately, Hellman said there is one week left for candidates to apply for the vacant at-large position on City Council.

Cover letters and resumes for the position will be accepted in the Fostoria mayor’s office until 5 p.m. Dec. 12. A potential candidate for the seat must be a registered voter and residing within the Fostoria corporation limits.

Qualified applicants will be given time at the Fostoria City Council meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 18 to explain why they would be the best candidate to join Fostoria City Council as an at-large member.

Council will then vote on the candidate who will be sworn in at the first regular Fostoria City Council meeting in January.

Separately, Fostoria has completed negotiations with area townships in which it provides emergency medical services.

Council on Tuesday gave first reading to an ordinance authorizing the city to enter into a contract with the JLB (Jackson Liberty Bettsville) Joint Ambulance District for the provision of emergency medical services.

The updated two-year contract will allow the city to charge the township a fixed rate of $400 per call with a cap of $24,000.

The previous contract with Jackson Township required an annual payment of $6,000.

The department typically runs around 40-50 calls in the township per year.

City officials previously stated putting a per-call number on the cost made the contract more fair for both parties.

“It’s not by any means a moneymaker for us,” Fostoria Fire Chief Brian Herbert previously said. “We’re not looking to make money or fix the city’s financial problems with these contracts. We want to provide our services to those citizens outside of Fostoria while still providing adequate coverage for people inside the city who are paying taxes for those services. We’re doing our best to be good neighbors, but we have to be fiscally responsible to our taxpayers as well.”

Fostoria completed negotiations with Perry Township in Wood County in March. JLB’s contract is mirrored off of Perry Township’s contract, with slight differences.

Loudon Township trustees chose to end the township’s contract with the city and let Bascom Joint Fire District handle all of its calls.

Separately, the city is hoping to update the fire department’s fleet.

Council gave a first reading Tuesday to an ordinance authorizing the city to enter into a lease agreement for a 2016 ambulance for the fire division.

Preliminary numbers show the ambulance costing the city around $175,000. Hellman said funds for a new piece of apparatus were included in the five-year recovery plan.