Skyrocketing Salt Costs

Tolland County Towns Crying Foul Over State Bid Process

Unseasonably warm weather meant it was a perfect day for towns to gear up for winter's imminent arrival. In Hebron, the Public Works Director Andrew Tierney is asking some in the state why his town was forced to pay so much this year while the towns surrounding him to the east and south paid substantially less.

"This year we're in store area 139 which includes 11 other towns. The price is quite a bit higher than the rest of the store areas by about 17 or 20 dollars more," Tierney said.

The state Department of Administrative Services breaks Connecticut up into 13 different zones and allows towns to enter into a contract to buy salt in bulk. The idea is the more the state buys the cheaper the price. That worked for almost every town in the state, except the 13 towns participating in Tolland County.

Tolland County towns are locked into a contract with the state to buy salt that costs $90.90 per ton. Towns to the east in Windham County are paying $71.68 and towns to the west in Hartford County are paying $72.27.

When Tierney pushed for an explanation from the state, they told him one of the reasons could be, "There was an oversight by the bidders. It seems most of the other store areas are won by one specific bidder."

The Department of Administrative Services who runs the bidding process through the state refuses to let Tolland County towns out of their contract. They told, "The bids that DAS received varied significantly, depending on the vendor and the geographic area."

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said, "any evidence of price manipulation will be investigated." He went on to say that, "I can't see any reason why Tolland County would have to pay $15 or $20 more"

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