Local

Huntley uses reserves to restock road salt following historic winter

HUNTLEY – Village officials are digging into the budget to replenish their road salt supply after spending a record winter digging snow and ice out of Huntley.

To prepare for the coming winter, the village recently used its reserves to purchase about 3,000 tons of salt, totaling $293,000, for both this year and 2015. The village earlier exhausted its entire 2014 salt supply, and 90 percent of its reserve supply, to combat the harsh winter.

Once the record snowfall and freezing temperatures ended, the village had roughly $18,700 remaining in its $145,000 road salt budget for 2014.

"Not only did we experience record snowfall – the third highest in history – but we also experienced high winds and record cold temperatures," said Public Works Director Jim Schwartz. "A combination of the three at times was very taxing on personnel, equipment and resources."

To complicate matters, the brutal winter also forced Huntley officials to find their own salt vendor to replenish the village's supply, likely at a higher cost than previous years.

Central Management Services, the state's procurement agency, informed village officials and hundreds of other municipalities last month that vendors didn't bid for its road salt package.

CMS typically procures tons of salt for more than 550 local governments. Last winter, though, likely increased demand on vendors, stretching salt supplies across the country.

Huntley consequently found its own vendor and even waived its bid process to restock on salt. Schwartz said the village could have started the winter with a minimal supply, if officials used its bid process that takes between four to six weeks to complete.

The move forced officials to spend more on salt than in the past.

"Buying in bulk, as with many purchases, helps reduce unit costs," Schwartz said, adding that CMS couldn't guarantee a municipality road salt if it rebid through the state.

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