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West Suburban Montgomery Has 900-Ton Salt Problem

A digger pours salt into a waiting truck for use on roads in winter. (Credit: PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

A digger pours salt into a waiting truck for use on roads in winter. (Credit: PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

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MONTGOMERY, Ill. (CBS) – Where do you store 900 tons of road salt when all your storage space is already full? That’s a question officials in west suburban Montgomery will have to answer in the next couple months.

“It’s kind of a good problem to have. It was such a mild winter,” said Montgomery Public Works director Mike Pubentz.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, the village used almost none of the road salt it ordered last year.

“Each March, I get an order form for the upcoming winter, so in March of 2011, I put our order in for what we thought we would need in the winter 2011-2012,” Pubentz said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Last year’s salt pile virtually went untouched, because of a mild winter that saw only a few measurable snowfalls.

But the village had already signed a contract for delivery of another 900 tons of salt in early June, with no place to store it. That salt pile would measure about 40 feet wide and 25 feet tall, and the village’s salt storage bin is already full.

Under a deal with the state, the village must purchase at least 80 percent of the original salt order.

“It’s a little bit of a crystal ball exercise,” Pubentz said.

With the salt bin full, Pubentz hopes to put the new delivery under a huge tarp behind the Public Works building.

There is a plus to the village’s salt surplus. The village had earmarked about $160,000 for road salt this fiscal year, but it will only cost them about $39,000 – more than $120,000 less than their original estimates.

The village could also save money on salt next year, given all the salt it will have stored come June.

“It’s that much salt that we won’t have to purchase next year, so we’ll see a reduction in next year’s expenses,” Pubentz said.

Unless, of course, next winter is especially harsh.

“I may use every grain of it, right?” Pubentz said.

The village will need to make sure the salt pile doesn’t melt when it rains, or mix with lime already stored at the same site.