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Road salt may shake up a municipality’s budget

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SOUTH MIDDLETON TOWNSHIP, CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. -- Several street crews will be out Friday night and Saturday morning, clearing roads from snow and ice.

The cost of having enough road salt to put on the roadways could shake up a municipality's budget.

Road crews in South Middleton Township have a mountain of pure salt to clear the roads this winter. Keeping the stockpile doesn't always come cheap.

When it comes time to stock up on road salt, cities, townships, and boroughs may pay the price for a harsh winter.

South Middleton Township supervisor Col. Tom Faley said "all of us in the area, municipalities, were using salt heavily, salt went up to $93 a ton."

Seasons change, along with supply and demand.

"Last year, a mild winter, everybody finished with a lot on hand. Salt this year cost us $59 a ton," Col. Faley said.

How much money is spent on salt may effect a municipality's budget for other projects down the road.

South Middleton Township road director Russ Yinger said "I always look forward to spring. You have a plan for what you're going to do the following year, but the winter also dictates that, if mother nature is good to you, you can proceed with your plans."

"If it's less in terms of widening roads and what have you, it's not as nice but people aren't dying because of skids and things like that.  Clearly, road clearing is our priority for the safety of the residents," Col. Faley said.

With 12 trucks and 110 miles of roads in South Middleton Township, there's a lot of road to cover in this Cumberland County community.

"Two to three hours to cinder, and it can be up to eight hours to plow them, because you've got to do each road four to five times with the width of the road. When you first start out, you just wonder if you're ever going to get done, because you're doing the roads at a slow safe pace," Yinger said.

It will be all hands are on deck Friday night as the forecast calls for snow and ice.

"The trucks are loaded," Col. Faley said.

"And try and get out a little bit ahead of the storm," Yinger said.

"The crews are on alert," Col. Faley said.

"We're going to roll the trucks out at 12 o'clock midnight," Yinger said.

"We have salt, tons of salt," Col. Faley said.