During yet another nominee for this winter's worst week, Hoffman Estates trustees Monday authorized Village Manager Jim Norris to buy up to $60,000 of additional road salt if needed and available before the snow and ice end.
Public Works Director Joseph Nebel said $60,000 should be able to buy about 1,000 more tons of salt -- enough for between four to 10 snowfalls. But the village would have to join a waiting list for any more salt that might become available this season.
Road salt is usually purchased in the fall for the winter ahead. And though a typical winter has been hard to define lately, 6,000 tons with a cushion of 2,000 to 3,000 more in reserves is normally enough to see the village through, Nebel said.
But this winter has been very far from normal.
Hoffman Estates had 3,000 tons left over from last winter and bought 7,000 more tons in the fall to start this winter with a total of 10,000 tons.
But since the first snow, the village has already used about half of that, Nebel said.
"We're in pretty good shape, if the rest of the winter was normal," he said.
But with no such guarantee, village board members opted to increase this season's cushion of reserves.
With the luxury of a 5,500-ton storage dome -- enough for nearly an entire normal season -- the village has no worries about ending the winter with too much salt, Nebel said. Whatever isn't used by April can be stored and used next winter.
The biggest unknown is whether more salt will become available this winter and what the price per ton of a scarce supply would be.
"We're not aware of any that's available at this time," Nebel said.
But the sooner Hoffman Estates can get on a waiting list -- ahead of other places -- the greater its options will be, he added.