Champaign Spends More Money on Salt in Preparation for Winter Weather

CHAMPAIGN--The trucks are parked inside, the plows are still outside, but Champaign's salt supply is ready to hit the road.

"Both of our salt domes are more full than I've ever seen them," said Kris Koester, spokesman for the city's Public Works Department.

Those tall piles are a strange sight this early in the season.

"In previous years, under the state's purchasing plan, salt was delivered, you know, sometime after the beginning of November," said Koester. "And we sort of periodically got different deliveries as we needed."

The year, around 6000 tons have already been delivered.

Since the demand for rock salt skyrocketed, Champaign did not receive a bid from the state's purchasing program to buy their supply at a reduced rate, forcing officials to look elsewhere for their stock.

"We just went out and called different companies, and said here's how much we want to order, and got quotes from them," said Koester. "We did end up paying more money than last year. Last year we were right around $57 per ton, this year, we're at $108 per ton."

More than the $65 per ton the Public Works Department planned to spend.

So last week, the Champaign City Council approved a budget amendment that included an additional $372,000 to pay for the difference. That money is coming from funds reserved for reasons like this.

"We passed some discretionary taxes, with the quarter-cent sales tax and the local motor fuel tax," said Mayor Don Gerard. "So we actually have the revenues, and we have the money. So it's not really taking away any other services from citizens and it's not going to raise any taxes."

And thanks to some leftover salt from last year, the city now has seven thousand tons waiting to get to work.

"Besides having the plows hooked up to the trucks, I guess, even if it snowed tomorrow, we'd be, we'd be ready," said Koester.

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