LAKE PLACID - At a recent meeting of the Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees, Mayor Craig Randall noted that Essex County pays more for road salt than any other county in New York State.
Randall said last week he figures the cost differential has to do with the distance it needs to be transported.
"The price of road salt - and this is an assumption on my part - has a lot to do with the distance that the salt has to be trucked to its delivery point," he said. "And if you look at Essex County in that information and you look at Franklin County, there's a few pennies difference. As I look at other counties, it seems pretty clear that something is driving the difference in the cost; the only thing I can figure is the price of trucking it."
What Randall wants to know, though, is if location is the only factor in the price of salt for Essex County.
A quick run-down of contract prices for upstate New York reveals that in fiscal year 2009-2010, Essex County paid $71.25 per ton for road salt. Franklin and Clinton counties paid $70.97 a ton.
But other upstate counties pay noticeably less. In Hamilton County, the per-ton price is $61.65 and in Herkimer it's just $47.80.
State Department of Transportation regional spokesman Peter Van Keuren told WNBZ that contracts are indeed based on location, but could not say why Hamilton County paid about 10 dollars less despite being just as rural.
"Pretty much, it's all location," Van Keuren said. "Essex County is the furthest away from salt mines and salt supplies, the places where they can get salt. It's just a destination thing; it's transportation costs. These are contracts that are administered by OGS, the Office of General Services, they put the contracts together and suppliers bid on them. It's done on a county-by-county basis."
Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties contract with Troy-based American Rock Salt Company LLC. A spokesman for the company said the only factor that figures into pricing is transportation costs.