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Light winter, light salt use by crews

February 21, 2012

Terry Hibbard of Young Township gathers a load of salt and anti-skid for the township’s snowplows and salt trucks. Young, along with other local municipalities, purchases its salt through a state contract through the COSTARS program. (Photo by Larry McGuire/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

HARRISBURG — Despite the lack of snow, winter maintenance and snow removal in this area, most municipalities have met the minimum requirements regarding their salt procurement contract through COSTARS, Pennsylvania’s cooperative purchasing program.

“Through the state contract, a municipality tells COSTARS what its expected needs are, and the contract is flexible that they only have to purchase 60 percent of what it needs,” said Bruce Beardsley, manager of Marketing and Constituent Relations for COSTARS.

COSTARS is administered by the state Department of General Services (DGS) Bureau of Procurement. There are several thousand registered members taking advantage of existing Commonwealth contracts, Beardsley said.

“Our goal is to provide contracts with competitive pricing, while providing increased opportunities for suppliers and eligible participants,” he said.

Joe Defelice, Punxsutawney Borough Public Works foreman, said Punxsy has already used more than 60 percent of its 475 tons. The borough is 140 percent over, but could still order more for delivery if it was needed for winter maintenance, he said.

Punxsy public works crews have been out plowing only three times so far this winter, Defelice said.

Mary Ann Redding, Young Township secretary-treasurer, said the township is about one-ton-and-a-half away from meeting its requirements — 60 percent of 250 tons of salt, which is 150 tons.

Cheri Rowles, Bell Township secretary-treasurer, said the township has made its tonnage requirements — 60 percent of 300 tons of salt under COSTARs contract, or 180 tons.

Paul F. Koza Jr., P.E., PennDOT Jefferson County manager, said PennDOT does not participate in COSTARS but has met its tonnage requirements of 75 percent.

He said with the lack of snow removal his crews have been out trimming trees, cutting brush, doing bridge repair and filling pot holes.

“The types of snowfalls we’ve had this year have been mostly nuisance snows, where we clear and treat the roads for an inch or two of snow, and then turn around and treat again later for an additional inch of snow,” Koza said.

Due to storage issues, some municipalities haven’t met their 60 percent tonnage requirement.

Beardsley said this year’s contract included storage provisions so that if a member is not able to take the minimum required quantities, the supplier will store the salt until Dec. 31.

“This is one of the lightest snow seasons we’ve experienced in quite some time,” he said. “However, we still have another month of winter, in which we could receive some heavy snowfalls.”

American Rock Salt Co. LLC was the low bidder for Jefferson County and will store salt if a member is unable to take the minimum required quantities at a cost of $10 per ton.

The current contract runs Aug. 1 through July 30, and COSTAR members have until then to order salt under the current contract, he said.
“We recommend members order relatively early to be on the safe side,” Beardsley said.

He said COSTARS doesn’t make recommendations to its members on how much material to purchase.

“If by March 15, which is the deadline to sign up for next year, I think if they haven’t used much of its salt supply, they should take that into account when ordering for next year,” he said.

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