SALEM - The city salt barn is full right now with road salt purchased at the lower summer price, but city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst said it's anybody's guess how long that will last.
Kenst updated city council on the salt situation in light of recent stories about sky-rocketing salt prices, explaining that the bid price of $102.70 per ton for salt available through the Ohio Department of Transportation has been rejected by the city.
Last year, the city paid $36.45 per ton and had a contract for up to 1,200 tons, but went over that amount in order to meet the city's needs.
This summer, the city took advantage of an opportunity to buy salt through ODOT's summer program at a cost of $54.95 per ton, which is more than what was paid last year, but way less than the current price.
Columbiana County also took advantage of the summer pricing for salt, but Mayor John Berlin said the county has more storage and was able to buy enough for almost the whole winter season. The city bought what it could store, with Kenst saying the full barn holds 600 tons of salt.
It's likely that more salt will be needed, considering more than double that amount was used last season, which was more severe than usual. He said he's looking at other arrangements and hoping to find a cheaper price than the $102.70 per ton bid.
In other business, Kenst said the free leaf bag program will enter its second year, with a flyer to be placed in utility bills residents receive in October. A coupon on the flyer will be redeemable at Home Depot in Salem on Oct. 4 for a set number of bags. Any leftover bags will be distributed by the city at times and a place to be announced. He thanked CCH Environmental, formerly known as the Carroll-Columbiana-Harrison Solid Waste District, for making the leaf bag distribution possible again.
The leaf bags are considered environmentally safe and make pickup by city crews easier because they don't have to rip them open to remove the leaves. The bags can be mulched up with the leaves inside them.
Kenst issued a reminder that Salem residents can take part in the electronics and household hazardous waste recycling event from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Columbiana County Fairgrounds. The program is sponsored by CCH Environmental for district residents, which includes all of Columbiana County.
He said he did some checking and learned that although there's a charge of $5 each for CRT computer monitors and CRT televisions, there's no charge for flat screen televisions. Tires can also be dropped off there, restricted to passenger car and light truck tires only, at a cost of 50 cents per tire for the first 10 tires, then $2 per tire for additional tires. No tires on rims will be accepted. A list of accepted materials is available on the CCH website at www.cchenvironmental.org.
City residents can drop off tires for free during a city tire drop-off event in the municipal lot near Timberlanes off of Pershing and South Lundy Avenue from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 3. Only passenger car and light truck tires will be accepted and no tires on rims will be allowed. Each person is limited to a maximum of eight tires. The tire drop-off will be for city residents only, with identification required.
Kenst estimated the city has saved $2,000 in tree-cutting costs by using the city electrician's old bucket truck to cut down dead curb lawn trees and trim branches. A new bucket truck had been purchased earlier this year for the city electrician to perform his duties. The city is responsible for 128 miles of curb lawn and using the old truck allows the city to do more of the work rather than have to hire a tree trimming service.
He also updated council members on the temporary solution to shore up the traffic light poles by placing gussetts or pieces of metal on the poles at the bases, in response to a problem discovered earlier this year with the poles corroding to the point where one fell down, causing the traffic lights to crash into the street. The project should be completed by the end of the month.
During Kenst's report, Councilman Clyde Brown referred to a previous story about parking violations being more heavily enforced and noted that parking enforcement wasn't all that he had requested. He had also been told that a lot of the drug problems are in the Second Ward, which he represents, and wanted to know if patrols had been stepped up in the Second Ward.
Kenst said he was sure they had, with Brown noting that if the streets are cleaned up in all the wards, that will take care of the downtown.