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Salt storage, cost leave West Elizabeth officials looking for answers

| Thursday, May 8, 2014, 12:21 a.m.

With concerns about salt cost overages this past winter, West Elizabeth officials are looking at having the borough store its own salt next winter.

The borough currently obtains its salt through the neighboring borough of Elizabeth, which houses salt used in both communities. Elizabeth purchases salt through the South Hills Area Council of Governments.

At a regular council meeting Wednesday, some West Elizabeth officials said they were surprised to see that their borough had been charged as much as $81 per ton for some of the salt it used this winter.

Councilman Frank Magill said he was under the impression the borough was only paying $57.52 per ton of salt.

“They're blindsiding us on this,” said Magill, though council officials did review a letter from South Hills Area COG sent in January saying that rates on salt would go up for municipalities that exceeded estimated use levels.

The $81 per ton rate was charged to municipalities that used more than 40 percent of their salt allotment, which is estimated before winter begins.

Councilman Ray Armstrong said, “I think we ought to get our own salt pile,” adding there are places in the borough to store the material.

Elizabeth Mayor Ann Malady, who was at the West Elizabeth meeting, said she is agreeable to having an apportioned amount of the salt from South Hills Area COG delivered to West Elizabeth.

West Elizabeth Solicitor Matt Racunas said the issue for both boroughs is knowing when they are approaching threshold levels for increased salt costs related to usage.

West Elizabeth's total salt expense for the past winter was $7,807.47.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966.

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