XENIA — Salt barns throughout Greene County are currently at capacity but if the area experiences another winter like last year, the barns will empty out quickly and may not refill.
A combination of low supply and high demand and prices has County Engineer Bob Geyer somewhat worried, and somewhat mad.
“I don’t know if the shortage is manufactured or real,” Geyer said. “We’ve never had a shortage of salt. We’ve got enough salt to last us 2,000 years in this country.”
Geyer currently has 3,100 tons but will need approximately 10,000 tons for a normal winter. The emphasis is on “normal winter.” Geyer said the extra 6,900 tons needed may be hard to come by.
Bids submitted with Southwest Ohio Purchasers for Government (SWOP4G) — a small group of purchasers from local governments in Southwestern Ohio — came back between $100 and $113.80 a ton, more than double last year’s prices for many. And most who requested bids — including Geyer — were denied.
Cargill, one of two companies SWOP 4G plans to utilize, returned bids for just eight of 101 entities and only four in Greene County — Beavercreek, Xenia, Bellbrook and Sugarcreek Township — at $100 per ton.
North American, the other salt supplier, returned a bid for 25,000 tons of salt at $113.90 per ton and will deliver to only four locations to be chosen by SWOP 4G.
It means unless the consortium chooses to accept the bid and award some salt to Greene County, Geyer’s salt barn will empty out and stay empty if he is unable to purchase salt from another entity.
“We’re going to have nothing to put down,” Geyer told county commissioners at their meeting on Thursday. “(Drivers are) going to get used to having white roads.”
Geyer said he has a September meeting planned with all the county entities to develop a county-wide snow and ice plan to make sure everyone is able to work together to keep the roads as clean as possible.
He told commissioners in his opinion the entities should wait until it gets closer to winter in the hopes that if nobody buys the salt, the price will come down and it will be made available everywhere.
Scott Halasz covers Xenia and Greene County for the Xenia Daily Gazette. He can be reached at 937-502-4507.