Is it worth it to spend nearly half a million dollars on a new facility to store salt for Pine Township?
That was the question the Pine Board of Supervisors asked last week when low bidder Infinity Crane & Excavating of Ford City said the cost of demolishing the current facility and building a new one would be $488,600.
Supervisors Chairman Michael Dennehy asked about a cost-benefit analysis, and, in the end, the supervisors tabled the discussion so the township staff can gather those numbers to help the supervisors decide whether the cost is worth the benefit.
The supervisors asked about everything from silos to concrete buildings to using tarps to store salt.
"The whole goal is not to run out of salt," said Scott Anderson, assistant township manager. "We came very close last year."
"Salt is very plentiful. It's always logistics," said Anderson, explaining that when the rivers freeze, suppliers cannot bring in barges loaded with salt. Lower supplies mean higher prices
A few years ago, salt prices skyrocketed during a shortage, and prices that more than doubled affected numerous municipalities' budgets.
Anderson and Kevin E. Brett of Lennon, Smith, Souleret Engineering Inc. told the supervisors that they expect salt shortages and the ensuing price increases to happen again.
"The idea is to be able to benefit from the (best) price," said Anderson. Having the room for storage means the township could choose the best salt contract and order all it needed at the beginning of the year, he said.
The township will use about 6,000 tons of salt this year, Anderson estimated, but the storage facility only holds 1,800 tons.
The new facility would hold more than 6,000 tons, he said.
The salt storage facility has been added onto twice, but salt can be piled no higher than 10 feet, Anderson said.
Public Works Director Jack Fasick said that if the salt is piled higher than that, the sides of the building start to separate.
The number of roads that the township maintains keeps increasing, said Anderson. Public works crews now maintain 85 miles, he said.