HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — In the winter months of the 2013-14 fiscal year, the Huntington Street Department was called out 47 times to clear snow.
That’s more than the past five years combined, said Assistant Public Works Director Jim Insco.
The scenario was the same across much of the country as one of the most brutal winters in recent memory seemed to ceaselessly drop ice and snow, refusing to relent to an early spring.
Under warm August skies, last winter bit one more time, as Insco realized road salt for the coming cold season will cost $99.66 per ton, up $43.81 — nearly double — from last year.
Insco said four companies picked up packets for the city road salt contract, but he received only one bid. It was from Compass Minerals International in Overland Park, Kansas, the same company that supplied the city last year.
“They were literally scraping the sides of the walls of the quarry last winter,” Insco said. “There’s only so much salt you can mine, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Because of last winter, the supply isn’t there to meet the demand, so the price is up.”
Insco said he’s been told that the road salt the city will get this year will come from South America.
On average, the city of Huntington uses about 1,200 tons of road salt per year. Last year Huntington bought an extra 1,000 tons, and borrowed some more from the state.
Because of last year’s scarce supply, Insco said Compass is requiring clients to buy 80 percent of the contracted amount now. For Huntington, that’s 960 tons, and it puts the Street Department over budget…