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Yorkville public works officials note 'atypical' road salt usage in report

City plow crews have already used 60 tons of salt, council committee told

YORKVILLE – With early snowfall this November came an early need to tap into city road salt reserves.

Eric Dhuse, public works director for Yorkville, presented a snow operations report from the department during the city's public works committee meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

"Unfortunately, we have a report already," Dhuse said with a laugh.

Dhuse said the city was caught not fully prepared for the first snowfall of the season, which occurred late last month. It is what it is, he said, and the city has had to use 60 tons of salt on city roads so far.

Dhuse said that's not bad, but it's definitely atypical for that much salt to be used this early in the season. He said the first snows typically come around the first or second weeks of December and there is usually no salt usage by this time in the year.

Dhuse said the city had to start using salt with snowfall starting around Nov. 15 last year. By the same time this year, he said, there have been three salting or snow plowing events.

"With [the first snow of the season] being Oct. 30, it's way early," Dhuse said.

The update comes after the City Council voted, 7-0, during their Nov. 12 meeting to approve allocating additional funds for the public works department's salt purchase for the coming season. Ward 2 Alderman Joe Plocher was absent from the meeting.

Dhuse said the current price for bulk salt with the bid through the state was $97.93 per ton, which was more than double last year's cost of $48.05 per ton. He said he originally budgeted for a 15% increase in salt prices but he "could not predict a 103% increase in price," he wrote in a Nov. 12 memo.

Though $135,000 was previously budgeted for road salt, city officials had said, the funds to buy more salt at an increased price would come from the city's general fund and the city's motor fuel tax fund, which saw an increase in funds after state gas taxes were raised starting last July.

Dhuse said the city bought 2,000 tons of salt for the season, with 700 tons being shipped to the city within the next week or so and the rest coming in as the city needs it. He said the city also already had 1,000 tons of salt in storage from past years.

"If this early weather is any indication of the months to come, I am very happy with the decision to order 2,000 tons of salt," Dhuse wrote in the memo.

Dhuse said the city covers about 120 lane miles for snow plowing with about 15 trucks and staff members to drive them. Even with a difficult winter ahead, he said, the preparation for plowing for the rest of the season remains the same.

"We prepare for the worst year possible," Dhuse said. "We always prepare for the worst and hope for the best."

Dhuse said he would want drivers to remember to stay clear of and behind the trucks, since the truck drivers probably can't see the other cars. Most of all, he said, he asks residents for their patience, since it takes a while to plow that many lane miles starting with arterial roads – including Countryside Parkway, Kennedy Road and Fox Road – going into neighborhoods and ending with cul de sacs and dead ends.

"We can't predict the weather and we can only react to what is coming down," Dhuse said.

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