Quincy taking no chances with salt supply ahead of winter

The City of Quincy is stocking its supply of road salt early this year after a long winter depleted its supply

After a long winter that depleted the city's salt supply, Quincy's Department of Central Services plans to stock its supply this week.

On Monday night, the Quincy City Council approved a resolution that allows the department to buy salt from an independent vendor.

Assistant Director of Central Services Richie Reis said he will place an order for 3,600 tons on Tuesday from a vendor in Batavia, Ill.

The order will cost the city $95 per ton, or $342,000 total.

By comparison, the city paid about $54 per ton last year.

Reis said the Illinois Department of Central Management Services typically helps supply Quincy with much of its salt, but high demand throughout the state and country have changed that this year.

"Last week we got a letter from them stating that there wasn't a vendor willing to supply us with that salt that we requested this year, which was 4,100 tons," he said.

As a result, Reis explained the need to purchase early to the city council Monday night.

"I think the longer we wait, the more, the higher the price is going to get -- once again, this isn't just a problem here in Quincy, this is a problem that's clear across the United States. The demand for salt is very high," Reis said.

After its first request was denied, the Department of Central Services submitted a new request to the state for 1,000 tons of salt.

That request is pending, and the cost per ton could be anywhere from $70 to $140.

Reis said it's impossible to predict just how much salt the city will need this year, but he still urges his department to be careful with the supply.

"I always tell my guys (to be) very conservative with the salt, because it is expensive and we want to make sure we have enough to fulfill the winter," Reis said.

The city used about 3,600 tons of salt last winter, and had to mix it with cinders as supply ran low.

Reis said the city's salt dome holds about 3,000 tons of salt.

Quincy is not alone in its search for road salt -- according to the Associated Press, more than 560 Illinois communities requested salt from the Department of Central Management Services.

But the department said no vendors responded to its request for salt bids.

Nearly 200 of those 560 communities have not yet sought out an outside source for salt.

The Department of Central Management Services has offered to reach out to vendors again, but has also urged communities to explore other options.