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Some Alle-Kiski Valley towns to save on road salt

Chuck Biedka
| Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010

Some Alle-Kiski Valley communities will pay about the same or a $1 per ton less for road salt compared to last year, but others will pay about $2 more per ton, a survey of local governments shows.

Those rates were offered even after the heavy snows of February because supply isn't the problem that it was in 2008.

That year, nationwide supply problems caused prices to skyrocket to more than $100 per ton.

Shortages didn't happen last winter and they aren't anticipated this year.

"When we opened our bids in July, our winning bid was $1.35 cheaper than last year," said Tom Benecki, executive director of the Allegheny Valley North Council of Governments. "It was a pleasant surprise that happened even after the pretty bad winter we had last year.

"And the price guarantee is for up to 125 percent — good if it really snows this winter."

Tarentum is among the local municipalities that is benefiting from the COG's contract.

Last year, Tarentum paid $52.75 a ton. But the municipality will pay $1.35 a ton less this year.

"That certainly will be good new to taxpayers," said Borough Manager Bill Rossey. "Since the borough buys 600 tons, the savings makes quite a difference."

Similarly, Frazer will pay $51.40 a ton through a council of government contract. Last year it paid $52.75 a ton.

But not all governments, even some with COG or statewide contracts, are enjoying a significant savings.

Some municipalities, such as New Kensington, will pay slightly more for each ton. Other governments will pay far more.

New Kensington will pay $51.98 or almost a $1 a ton more for salt through a state contract this year, said City Clerk Dennis Scarpiniti.

The cooperative state purchase plan offered salt at $50.47 a ton last year, he said.

New Kensington usually uses about 3,000 tons annually and can store about 750 tons at a time.

"That's enough for two or three days," Scarpiniti said. "As long as the trucks keep running, we'll be OK."

North Apollo paid about $56 last year but like New Kensington, it will pay about $1 more a ton this year, said Borough Secretary Bob Stitt.

"The winter before last we had a big problem," Stitt said. "We shouldn't have a problem with supply."

Last month, Freeport Council agreed to pay $61.48 per ton.

"That was the same as last year," said Council President Jim Seagriff Jr. He said the borough will buy 250 tons.

Kiski Township and Saxonburg will pay each pay about $2 more a ton.

Kiski Township will pay $69.11 a ton compared to $67.01 last year, said clerk Barbara Talmadge. The township is not part of the state co-op buying program.

Saxonburg will pay $64.38 a ton this year compared to $62.58 last year, said Borough Secretary Mary Papik. The borough is part of COSTAR.

The borough's bid was based on 200 tons. It will be required to buy at least 60 percent of that amount through COSTAR.

"But the good part is if we need more, we have the same price for up to 140 percent of that," she said.

Additional Information:

State also buying salt

PennDOT will pay about $61 a ton for road salt this year. That's a little more than 2 percent more than the $59 per ton average paid last year, said PennDOT spokesman Steve Chizmar.

PennDOT buys road salt through a COSTAR contract administered by the Department of General Services. Bids are sought by each PennDOT district.

Last year, PennDOT bought slightly more than 900,000 tons. PennDOT annually dispenses salt on 93,000 snow lane miles each winter, Chizmar said.

General Services spokesman Ed Myslewicz said the co-op buying program is seeing growth in municipal members because of salt use.

For 2010-11, there are 1,517 members, about 75 more than last year. It's estimated that they'll require 817,600 tons.

General Services' Beverly Hudson said the bids vary by each county and the time of the year that the bid is accepted.

Hudson said the rates include a diesel fuel charge that may be adjusted for transportation costs.

It's generally cheaper for northern-tier counties because one salt mine is in New York state, she said.

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