Hilliard City Council members used emergency legislation Monday night to approve the purchase of rock salt from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and to complete a new three-year contract with a union representing a group of city employees. Both ordinances were unanimously approved.

Hilliard City Council members used emergency legislation Monday night to approve the purchase of rock salt from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and to complete a new three-year contract with a union representing a group of city employees. Both ordinances were unanimously approved.

Public Service director Clyde R. Seidle said the purchase of additional rock salt for use on city streets will ensure that the city has an adequate supply on hand to meet its needs for the remainder of the winter driving season.

In late-December, ODOT announced it would provide assistance to local governments that were unable to secure rock salt contracts for the 2008-09 winter driving season.

Seidle said emergency approval of the legislation authorizing the city's participation in the program was needed because of ODOT's Feb. 1 application deadline.

Seidle said Hilliard would purchase approximately 500 tons of rock salt at a cost of $75 per ton.

Seidle said the city has used approximately 300 tons of rock salt this winter and has about 800 tons on hand. Purchasing the additional 500 tons will bolster the city's stockpile to nearly 1,300 tons.

Rock salt is the most widely used, ice-fighting material for keeping roadways safe. Ohio has seen a dramatic spike in the price of rock salt in the past year, with increases ranging from 50 percent to 300 percent.

ODOT director James Beasley expanded his department's Smart Salt Strategy in December when many Ohio communities were unable to acquire rock salt contracts.

ODOT is rationing 100,000 tons of salt from its stockpiles, allowing for a one-time sale to counties and communities that were unable to secure salt contracts. In the other emergency action Monday night, city council approved a new three-year contract with employees represented by the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union AFL-CIO-CLC.

Human Resources Director Jerry Edwards said the contract runs from Jan. 1, 2009, through Dec. 31, 2011, and covers 23 union members working in the city's service department. Those employees will receive pay increases totaling 10.25 percent over the three-year period. Union members will receive a 3.5 percent pay hike in 2009, 3.5 percent in 2010 and 3.25 percent in 2011.

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