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January 07, 2014 | 04:03 PMFONTANA — The last few warmer winters have cut the salt supplies in the village back to lower than usual amounts.
"We're not worried about running out of salt for this year," Streets Director Ron Adams said. "We're just really cutting back and using up our salt reserves."
The village keeps a dome of salt, and Adams said it has a capacity of about 760 tons.
"Right now, I'm guessing there is about 300 tons of salt in there," Adams said at the Jan. 6 village board meeting.
Adams said with the amount of snow the village has already seen this winter, the village will probably be using a lot more of it's salt reserves in the coming months.
During a phone interview Jan. 7, Adams said filling up the village's four plow trucks uses about 25 yards of salt.
"There's a little difficulty we have in the measuring of it," Adams said. "We don't have a scale, so we can only measure it by yardage. But we have to order the salt based on ton."
The cost, each year, is set by the state based on the amount of salt municipalities estimate they'll use in the following winter.
"We have to estimate in April each year how much salt we're going to use the following winter," Adams said. "Then the state gets those estimates from all the (municipalities) and they set the price (based on how much the municipalities need). The budget is set before that, though."
This year, Adams said the price is a little more than $50 per ton.
"The past three or four years, we've had lighter winters and we haven't ordered as much salt," Adams said. "It's really a budgeting issue in that part."
The budget year goes from January to December, but the need for salt starts in November and goes through March.
"We need to make sure we have enough in the stores for November and December," Adams said. "Then we can get more in January."
Adams is expecting two shipments of salt, a 100-ton shipment that was delayed because of the weather, and 200 tons next week.
"We try to conserve as much salt as we can throughout the day," Adams said to the board. "Fontana has so many hills that if we don't salt them, we're going to have an accident. The salt doesn't last very long, especially if you have a storm that starts at 8 in the morning and goes until 10 at night."
Village President Arvid "Pete" Peterson said the board and residents all agree that the salt dome should be filled.
"We need to make sure that we allow him to fill the dome at the end of the season," Peterson said. "It's a problem if we don't have the salt."
Peterson said drivers can quickly tell when they enter and exit the village based on the road conditions.
"In Fontana, the roads are cleared," he said. "The rest of the area, the roads aren't that good."
Lake Geneva and Williams Bay use a sand and salt mixture, and in parts of Fontana, the streets crews use a similar mixture of sand and salt.
Village Clerk Dennis Martin said in many areas of Fontana, the hills are too steep to use the mixture.
"We just have to use the salt because of all our hills," Martin said.