XENIA— The City of Xenia voted Thursday night to spend nearly $300,000 to purchase 3,000 tons of roadway salt in preparation for the upcoming winter.
It’s the city’s largest salt purchase and it’s more than the salt barn can hold. It’s more than the city used during last year’s abnormal winter. But officials had no choice if they wanted to get any at all.
Xenia participates in the cooperative Southwest Ohio Purchasers for Government (SWOP4G) process for bidding and purchasing salt, which is short in supply and high in demand even though its only August. SWOP4G received bids from Cargill, Inc., and North American, Inc. North American gave a bid for just 25,000 tons and would only deliver to four places, chosen by SWOP4G, County Engineer Bob Geyer told county commissioners last week.
Cargill gave bids for only eight jurisdictions, with Xenia being one of them. Xenia’s bid was for $99.43 per ton, about $45 more per ton that last year.
“These bids are frankly a little disconcerting,” City Manager Brent Merriman told council on Thursday. The bids stipulate that the entities purchase the entire amount and must commit by Sept. 15 for delivery between Oct. 1 and Nov. 1.
“We can’t do a partial purchase,” Merriman said.
Xenia already has 900 tons on hand and can hold another 100 tons in it’s current storage facility. The city will explore converting the sanitation barn on Towler Road into another salt storage facility. The excess salt will be stockpiled and made available for sale to other jurisdictions who weren’t so lucky in the bidding.
“There’s a desire to work cooperatively,” Merriman said. “We know what it’s like to need from other communities in time of trouble. (City staff) thinks it’s important and we recommend being a good neighbor. I think we have an obligation to do something.”
During the next couple months several Greene County communities, along with Centerville, will meet to establish a memorandum of understanding or a similar agreement that will outline terms of salt sales.
“I know this sounds cartel-like, we’re just trying to create a structure that’s fair,” Merriman said.
In the unlikely event that Xenia is unable to sell excess salt to other communities, Merriman said private contractors would then be able to purchase the salt. But he doesn’t see that as a strong possibility.
“There are people lined up (to get salt),” Merriman said. “(Making the purchase) is more than a safe gamble.”
Geyer will also meet with most of the county entities to establish some salt use policies so most of the roads in the county are treated consistently.
Scott Halasz covers Xenia and Greene County for the Xenia Daily Gazette. He can be reached at 937-502-4507.