Some Southern New Hampshire towns will be saving thousands of dollars this winter by buying road salt at the same rate the state pays.
Towns were allowed to buy road salt at the same rate the state pays this year after being shut out from the piggyback opportunity last year.
Derry and Windham are among the towns that told the state they planned to buy salt at their rate, $54.53 per ton, delivered. That's about $15 a ton less than the towns paid for salt last year. Salem was also able to obtain the state rate.
Provisions in the state contract this year with salt provider Granite State Minerals required towns to tell the state by midsummer if they intended to buy salt at the discount rate, Paul Wentworth said. Wentworth is treasurer of Granite State, located in Portsmouth. It's now too late to get salt at the state rate, he said.
Salem did not tell the state early on that it wanted in, but the town later reached agreement with Granite State to pay the same rate the state is paying, said Steve Artemis, Salem's purchasing agent.
Salem uses 7,000 tons of road salt a year on average, said Rick Russell, the town's public works director. The town paid $69.31 per ton last year, he said. It will save more than $100,000 this year if it buys 7,000 tons.
This year, Derry will buy about 3,000 tons of the state-priced road salt.
Derry Public Works Director Mike Fowler was disappointed last year when the state did not allow towns to join in the state rate. In 2008, Derry wound up accepting a bid of $68 per ton, compared to $48.80 per ton paid in 2007.
Windham Public Works Director Jack McCartney expects the town to realize a substantial savings on salt this year, after paying $72.46 per ton from International Salt Co. of Clarks Summit., Pa., last year. The town typically uses about 900 tons a year, he said.
"How can it be bad? Basically you are saving 20 percent on a ton," McCartney said.
Another provision of this year's contract between the state and Granite State requires towns that want the state rate to accept it without putting their salt purchase out to bid, he said.
"You don't get two bites at the apple," Wentworth said.
Other Southern New Hampshire towns that have indicated their interest in buying at the state rate include Danville, Hampstead, Newton and Pelham, said Caleb Dobbins of the state Department of Transportation.
Dobbins said the state DOT buys about 184,000 tons of road salt a year to treat 9,000 miles of state roadway. He deferred questions to the state purchasing agent on why the state did not allow towns to piggyback last year and it did this year.
State Purchasing Agent Michael Walsh was not available for comment.
Meanwhile, Wentworth, of Granite State, said the market price for salt has dropped a few dollars this year. Freight costs, including delivery, loom large in the price per ton of salt, he said. Last year, the state rate was $57 per ton.
The Portsmouth company gets most of its salt from Peru, where it is mined.
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