Municipal Salt Reserves Taxed, But Ready For One More Storm

Most municipal salt reserves aren’t taxed yet, but more severe weather could prove problematic.

Utility Truck

Photo: Alex Roy

City leaders say they still have salt reserves, but another blast or two of harsh weather could stretch them.

City officials across south-central Indiana say this week’s snow and ice have affected street departments differently.  Most salt reserves aren’t running short yet, but more severe weather could prove problematic.

In Columbus, snow and ice have caused the city to spend more than anticipated.

“We have spent almost our entire budget for this year in a month,” said Mayor Fred Armstrong.

Armstrong said another heavy snowfall could mean he has to ask for an additional appropriation from Bartholomew County to purchase more salt.

“If we have one more, we’re down to the nubbins.”  Armstrong said.

In Martinsville, Street Superintendent Bob Roe said he’s spent about half his 300-ton reserve of sand and salt mixture fighting this week’s wintry blast, often having to re-salt roads which froze, thawed, and froze again.  Roe is waiting on more salt, and if it arrives before much more precipitation falls he believes his city can make it to spring without ordering more.

“Once I get that other 100 tons in, it should get us through unless we just have storm after storm after storm,” he said.

But in places like Bedford, the salt has been slow in arriving.  Assistant Street Commissioner Dennis Grogan said he’s got 500 tons of sand and salt waiting to be applied to roads, but he ordered 400 more tons just to be safe.  But it could be a while before it all gets there.

“But when I called them, it was about two weeks, they called me back and said they had such a backlog on orders that they could only send people 100 tons at a time,” Grogan said.

Bedford saw only rain during the most recent weather event, but Grogan said his situation is similar to that of Armstrong and Roe – the number of heavy snowfalls means the difference between a salt shortage and a welcome spring thaw.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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