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Penn Township policy aims to conserve salt

| Sunday, April 29, 2012, 3:52 p.m.

The higher price and uncertain availability of salt will bring a change in Penn Township winter road maintenance.

Commissioners unanimously adopted a policy Monday that calls for clearing only the center road surface of both lanes, with the exception of hills, curves and intersections.

"Everything will remain the same when treating of hills, intersections and curves," said Township Manager Bruce Light. "We're just not going to stretch to get that black road 100 percent clear on straight and narrow roads."

The township never had a policy on the books, but in the past would use enough salt to melt snow and ice to the pavement.

"We felt we might not have enough salt depending on the severity of the winter," said Charles Horvat, chairman of the board of commissioners. "We had no real policy, except for standard operating procedure. We can now pass it down to future commissioners as they come along. We also wanted to make sure we allow citizens to be aware and know what our policy is."

Light initially sent out invitations to five companies to submit bids for road salt, but four came back with no bid. The fifth -- International Salt Co. of Baltimore -- submitted a bid of $89 per ton and did not include delivery, requiring the township to pick up the salt in Baltimore.

The bid was unanimously rejected.

The township agreed to buy $2,500 tons from PennDOT at a cost of $51.90 per ton with the possibility of receiving an additional 1,000 tons. That would take the township's total tonnage to 5,500, including the amount in storage. That's usually enough for a typical winter.

A special meeting has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday to discuss the 2009 budget.

A preliminary budget was presented Nov. 12 that showed a shortfall of about $387,000. Commissioners are working to address that imbalance, and a preliminary spending plan might be approved Monday.

Light stressed to commissioners the importance of having a preliminary budget approved by Dec. 8 to enable it to be advertised for the required time before a final spending plan is approved by the end of the year.

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