Naperville looking at road salt costs for 2014-15

The salt supply in the storage dome on Plainfield-Naperville Road isrunning low, but there's plenty more where that came from. | Susan Frick Carlman ~ Sun-Times Media
The salt supply in the storage dome on Plainfield-Naperville Road is running low, but there's plenty more where that came from. | Susan Frick Carlman ~ Sun-Times Media

A lot of Midwesterners aren’t yet ready to tempt fate by stashing the down-filled coats and felt-lined boots in the attic, but Naperville officials have already started thinking about the snowy season of 2014-15.

The past winter’s snowfall totals were among the highest on record. National Weather Service data shows 82 inches came down on Chicago over the 2013-14 season, putting it close to the top-ranking winter of 1978-79, when 89.7 inches of flakes fell.

With the entire region seeing a similar uptick in accumulations and the associated icy roads, salt supplies grew short and deliveries to area municipalities were sometimes delayed. In Naperville, sand was added briefly to help stretch the limited supplies in some of the 31 rounds of de-icing that were done over the course of the season, putting 22,000 tons of salt on city roadways.

By the time the final flake flew, winter operations had cost the city $3.47 million, almost 42 percent more than usual.

City Council members are asking how to keep costs down next year. In a recent memo, City Manager Doug Krieger said three options were pursued to ensure the lowest price for salt: taking part in the state purchasing contract; participating in the DuPage County bid; and bidding directly. The state alternative proved most cost-effective.

“Our price for next year will be $52.46 per ton, our direct bid price was $68.65, and the county price was the highest at $70.44 per ton,” Krieger wrote in the memo. “By exercising our option with the state contract we will enjoy better delivery terms and service and pay 25.5 percent less than the county bid price.”

The sum budgeted for salt in fiscal 2014 was $729,335, enough to cover 14,000 tons at about $52.09 each. According to city spokeswoman Linda LaCloche, the city’s overall cost averaged $49.95 per ton.

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