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Montgomery waives bidding, buys road salt : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Montgomery waives bidding, buys road salt
Staff solicited price quotes after village came up empty in state bidding

by John Etheredge


The Montgomery Village Board reluctantly agreed to waive competitive bidding Monday evening and approve the purchase of road salt for the village's public works department for the coming winter at a cost not to exceed $309,600.

The village will purchase the salt at a cost of $103.32 per ton from North American Salt Company of Overland Park, Kansas.

Under terms of the purchase agreement, the village will be obligated to purchase at least 80 percent of 3,000 tons of salt ordered. As a result, the minimal amount the village will spend on salt will be $247,752.

Last year, the village purchased salt at a cost of $55.51 per ton.

Mike Pubentz, the village's public works director, acknowledged even the minimal expenditure is significantly higher than the $165,000 line item for salt in the village's current fiscal year budget.

Pubentz noted the village had hoped to purchase the road salt through a bidding process conducted by the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS). The village has participated in the CMS bid program for the past several years. However, Pubentz said CMS recently notified the village that none of the salt supply companies submitting bids to the agency offered to bid on the village's salt.

He noted the village is one of many municipalities throughout the state to receive "no bid" notices from CMS.

Concerned the price of salt will rise even higher, Pubentz said he consulted with Village Administrator Jeff Zoephel and they decided to directly seek bids from salt suppliers. He said they contacted six salt suppliers, but only one-North American-submitted a price quote.

Rather than wait for alternate joint bid programs available through the Metro West Council of Government and the Illinois Department of Transportation, Pubentz said he accepted the North American bid prior to formal board approval.

In a memo to the board, Pubentz explained, "I felt that due to the inability of the state bidder to supply salt that demand for remaining supplies would be high, and that delaying the decisions to accept could jeopardize our ability to obtain salt and would likely result in higher pricing. There were also some hurdles with joining either a Metro West or IDOT supplemental bid (program), the greatest being that results of that bid would not be known until late September or early October which I felt was far too late into the fall to know if we would have adequate salt supplies."

Board members expressed disappointment that no firms bid for the village's salt through the CMS.

When questioned by board members, Pubentz said he does not know about the inner-workings of the CMS, but speculated agency officials may have underestimated the demand for road salt.

Village President Matt Brolley said, "Somehow the winning bidder was allowed to cherry pick the communities they wanted to provide salt to and the rest of us are kind of screwed in the process."

Brolley added the extra amount of state-reimbursed Motor Fuel Tax revenues the village will have to spend on road salt this winter will put a "serious dent" in the village's annual street maintenance program next year.

However, he continued, the village will spend the additional revenues on the road salt "because we value safe driving in the winter."

Board member Stan Bond suggested the village consider sending a letter to CMS expressing their disappointment with the bidding process.

Brolley said he believes the Metro West Council of Governments, a lobbying organization for the village and other municipalities in Kendall, Kane and DeKalb counties, will be sending a letter to CMS on behalf of its members.

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