Many roadway departments in Will and Grundy counties plan on going back to the state bidding process for road salt amid uncertainty on salt price and some not receiving any bids at all last year.
But many public officials are tempering their expectations this year.
Last year, the state’s road salt industry experienced a shortage caused by the harsh 2013-14 winter.
The Illinois Department of Central Management Services has served as a marketplace where rock salt vendors can bid on municipal or county requests.
Last year several municipalities, including Plainfield, Channahon and Shorewood, didn’t receive bids through the program, forcing them to solicit bids themselves.
However, Plainfield still plans to go through the state bidding process.
“We had a little heartburn last year over the issue, but we’re hopeful this year,” said Allen Persons, Plainfleld public works director.
Plainfield approved a salt contract of 3,000 tons at $107.20 a ton last year. That cost per ton was much higher than previous years’ state bids, Persons said.
Last year, the village went through the state bidding process twice. But Persons said if no bids are received on the first try this year, he plans to discuss with the Village Board securing a quick bid through the village instead of the state.
The Will County Division of Transportation also didn’t receive a bid through the state program last year.
Assistant County Engineer Jeff Ronaldson said the county purchased about 10,000 tons of salt through Elgin-based Central Salt for $105.25 a ton.
“It’s about half of what we usually get because the price was doubled,” Ronaldson said.
Continuing state bids
Joliet last year renewed its state-bid contract with a slight price increase from the 2013-14 rate because it also bought salt through a deal with the city of Naperville.
“We only had to request two-thirds of the amount last year,” said Jim Trizna, Joliet public works director. “This year we plan on purchasing from the state.”
Grundy County also received a state bid last year.
“We were fortunate enough to continue the contract and keep costs down to $52 per ton,” said Grundy County Engineer Craig Cassem, adding that there is no plan to deviate from the state bidding process.
The city of Morris has never used the state bidding process, Public Works Director Jim Gretencord said.
Instead, it has relied on a partnership with Morton Salt, and will continue to in the future despite the supplier cutting back on supply and increasing prices to $126 a ton.
“I actually get a better price not going through the state,” Gretencord said, adding that the salt comes out of Ottawa, allowing the city to retrieve salt itself instead of relying on delivery, which could take a long time during harsh winters.
However, Gretencord said he doesn’t expect salt prices to go down to pre-2014 levels.