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updated: 1/29/2014 12:55 PM

Elk Grove not skimping on salt

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By the time winter is over, Elk Grove Village will likely have used more salt on its local streets than ever before, village officials said Tuesday.

And just to make sure the village's public works crews can get through the rest of the winter, the village board voted Tuesday night to retroactively approve a $49,750 emergency purchase of 500 tons of salt, to add to the 1,500 tons or so that remain in storage.

While other towns have begun using beet juice and other additives on their streets in severe winter weather, Elk Grove Mayor Craig Johnson said he believes salt "is still the best by far."

And village crews apply it early and often to their 140 miles of roadway, having already used more than 4,100 tons of salt so far on 36 separate occasions this winter, officials said.

"We've always been committed to strictly (using) salt," Johnson said. "We don't skimp on it."

The village began the winter with approximately 2,300 tons of salt at its salt barn at 1000 Oakton St. and at a state-owned salt dome at Biesterfield Road and Route 53. And last March, the village board approved buying 3,360 tons of bulk rock salt through a state joint purchasing program.

The village has already exhausted buying any more salt through that preapproved contract, which stipulates that a municipality may purchase only up to 120 percent more at the original contract price.

So officials began looking for outside vendors that would have offered cheaper salt on an emergency basis, and they found St. Louis-based Chick Construction/A-1 Salt, which has a warehouse in the Chicago area.

The company was selling its salt at $99.50 per ton -- about double the price of salt in non-winter months.

"It was an emergency purchase because the vendor said if you don't buy it now, it will be gone," Village Manager Ray Rummel said.

Despite the emergency purchase, village officials are still planning to buy about the same amount of salt in preparation for next winter. About 5,000 tons are used during a typical season, and unused salt from the previous two winters was saved and used this winter, Johnson said.

"This is an anomaly," Johnson said. "This is not a normal winter."

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