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posted: 5/6/2014 5:30 AM

Wheaton takes a gamble on higher road salt price

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This year, Wheaton officials have decided to take a different route in purchasing salt for winter weather.

For more than a decade, the city has participated in the state's contract for salt, which had a price of $52.31 per ton for the winter of 2013.

On Monday, the city council agreed to purchase salt for 2014 through DuPage County's purchasing program instead, at a rate of $70.44 per ton.

That amount is over budget by nearly $10 per ton, which officials said is a result of the current market. The budget is for 3,300 tons at $60.60 per ton.

City Manager Don Rose said the state's purchase price for salt for the winter of 2014 will not be available for about another month.

"This opportunity was before us. We needed to make a decision on it," Rose said of DuPage County's price. "The county bidding has procured a lower bulk price for the last several years, lower than the state's, so one can only assume it will be there again."

The county has received a better price on salt than the state since 2007, with the exception of one year. If salt had been purchased through the county since 2009, the city could have seen a savings of more than $76,000.

However, the county just opened up their salt contract to include local entities that pre-committed their requirements last year. Wheaton officials decided it would be best to observe how the first year went before making a commitment.

One determining factor for switching to DuPage County's contract this year was the fact that it did not experience supply shortages despite record-breaking snowfalls this past winter.

The county also continued to receive salt at the contracted rate, despite the demand.

Wheaton, on the other hand, was unable to receive additional quantities of salt from the state this past winter when it ran out.

That resulted in two additional deliveries from non-contracted sources that were priced at much higher than the contracted rate, at about $200 per ton.

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