By Rachel Goff
As snow is starting to fall heavier and roads are getting slicker, all of Vermont is adjusting to an increase in the price of salt.
According to a contract signed by the Vermont Agency of Administration, the cost of the de-icing material went up 40 percent from last November due to an increased demand, and across The Valley road crews are choosing to either use less salt or spend more money on it.
The price of Cargill salt went from $58 per ton this year to $72 per ton for next year, and the price of American Rock salt went from $61 per ton for this year to $76 per ton for next year, Waitsfield town administrator Valerie Capels reported.
Historically, Waitsfield has used between 300 and 400 tons of both Cargill and American Rock salt a year, but this winter "the select board, working with the road crew, has agreed that they're going to try and use less of it and be more effective about where they use it," Capels said.
Likewise, Moretown town administrator Cheryl Brown reported that the road crew is hoping it can get by with less salt this season, as the re-engineering of Moretown Mountain Road has made the hill safer for cars.
In Warren, however, the highway department has a different mindset. Despite the increase in the price of salt, "We're not going to put out any less to keep the public safe," road foreman Raemon Weston said. Instead, "We'll raise our budget to cover the cost," he said, explaining that the town has already increased its allotment for salt from $65,000 for 2014 to $78,000 for 2015.
The town of Fayston has also increased its salt budget from $30,000 to $35,000 for next year, town administrator Patti Lewis reported. Compared to the other Valley towns, which budgeted up to $42,000 for salt in 2014, Warren still uses much, much more of the de-icing material.
"We have the major ski area and the other towns don't," Warren town administrator Cindi Hartshorn-Jones said as an explanation. Of the salt that Warren purchases each winter, "the majority of it goes on the [Sugarbush] Access Road," she said, as well as Inferno Road, West Hill Road and East Warren Road.
The amount of salt the road crew puts down, however, depends on the type of storm, Hartshorn-Jones explained. "If you get more rainstorms than snowstorms, you go through a lot of salt fast," she said.
According to Weston, all The Valley towns can do is "hope for not too bad a winter," he said, "but right now it's not looking that way, is it?"