A mild winter last season, both locally and across the state, resulted in a 27 percent drop in salt bids for the county this week.
“Salt bids came in at the lowest price since 2007,” Auglaize County Engineer’s Office Chief Deputy Engineer Gary Kuck told the Wapakoneta Daily News.
Bids in 2007 were $47 per ton of salt. For 2012-13, the lowest bid came in at $49.68 per ton.
“The last four years, they have been within $1, between $67.84 and $68.55,” Kuck said.
Last winter, Auglaize County paid $68.30 per ton of salt purchased.
During the winter of 2008-09 the county received no salt bids and had to purchase road salt on the open market. During the 2007-08 winter season, they used three times the normal amount.
For this winter, four companies submitted bids to supply the county with salt. Morton Salt submitted the lowest bid, followed by North American, American Rock Salt, and Cargill Inc. Four other companies, who have submitted bids in the past, did not submit bids this year.
“The drop in price is due to lack of use last year, that’s the biggest reason,” Kuck said. “It was the softest year we have had in the last 10 years by far.”
Also accounting for some savings, is the tonnage the county expects to use.
Average use for the past 10 years has been 1,500 tons of salt annually for county roadways alone, and 2,300 tons when you factor in townships and cities for which the Auglaize County Engineer’s Office supplies salt at cost.
A trial plan last year to use less salt by spreading a combination of salt and brine on roadways was successful and is to be expanded this winter.
Kuck said it could reduce the county’s salt needs by one-third and result in a 25 percent net savings.
“Last year, we didn’t do it for the whole year, but we got our feet wet,” Kuck said as he described how crews are in the process of refining their blending and dispensing units.
Special units to dispense the mixture are to be mounted to each of the county’s snow trucks. The units were made by employees of the Engineer’s Office to further cut costs.
While the county normally requests 2,200 tons of salt each year, this year because of 800 tons left from last winter, they requested 1,000 tons on a contract that requires them to get 800 tons, or 80 percent of their bid, and will enable them to purchase an additional 400 tons, bringing the total to 1,200 tons, or 20 percent more than requested.