Harsh winter puts strain on salt reserves

Mother Nature has dealt municipalities a bad hand this winter, and it’s costing them in salt.

Warren County Public Safety Director Todd Lake reported at the Warren County Commissioners’ work session Monday morning that many local municipalities’ salt reserves are at critical levels.

“Warren has requested a loan of salt from the state,” he said.

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and PennDOT are looking at the reserves across the state to determine how much, if any can be diverted to critical areas.

He added that in order to save money, many places order the salt as they need it, rather than stockpiling it. He said some of the local townships and boroughs have ordered more salt from Morton, only to find the next delivery won’t happen before the end of this month or early March.

Commissioner John Eggleston noted that this is a historical winter with uncommon snow and temperatures, and is going to have an effect on heating bills as well as road salt.

And, while the cold, snow and ice was being stubborn on the surface, Lake also said that PEMA reported an earthquake on the border of Mercer and Crawford counties. The quake registered 2.2 on the Richter Scale, and was five kilometers below the surface. There was no damage reported.

Also on Monday the commissioners allocated $155,000 for county roads and bridges, in addition to the liquid fuels money local municipalities are already receiving from the state.

The county receives the money from the state, but since the county doesn’t own or maintain any roads or bridges, the money is divided among the local municipalities based on the number of miles of roadways and the population of each municipality.

The county does hold back a certain amount of the liquid fuels funds for naturally-occurring emergencies, according to Dan Glotz, Warren County planning director.

A portion of the funds that are held back is also used for inspecting locally-owned bridges.

During the salary board portion of the meeting, a part-time 911 dispatcher was hired at $12.37 per hour; a worker in Domestic Relations was increased from 35 hours a week to 37.5 hours; a part-time correctional officer for the jail was hired at $12.60 per hour and a clerk-typist at Human Services had hours increased to full-time.

Egggleston made a motion to increase salaries of non-union administrative department heads by two percent or the negotiated union rate. “We need to look at this each year,” he said. The motion passed.