Cost of new salt storage shed in Cudahy draws concern from residents

Building would cost an estimated $350K

CUDAHY - A plan to build a new storage facility for salt in the City of Cudahy has some citizens concerned over the cost to the taxpayer.

The new storage shed is part of a proposed plan to spend roughly $13 million on a brand new facility for the Department of Public Works. So far, only the salt shed has been approved, that will cost about $350,000.

The city says the shed will actually save money in the long run, but several residents aren't convinced.

"We want those costs justified," said Greg Loferski, who has lived in Cudahy for more than 40 years.

He says he and several other citizens have been raising concerns about the new facility since last summer.

"I’m all for saving money," he said. "If this salt building will save us money, I'm all for that, I’m just not seeing that in the document."

The document he's referring to was compiled by the Director of Public Works and outlines how the new building will save money.

According to their return on investment strategy, the current facility holds 600 tons of salt. Typically, over the last five years, the city has used 1,600 tons of salt each year. In the case of a really bad winter, the city says it uses 2,000 tons.

In April of each year, the city locks into a contract with the state for salt usage and says it's obligated to take what's ordered even if it's not all used.

In mild winters, that means there is usually a surplus of salt that has to be stored somewhere, in many cases at the Port of Milwaukee.

Costs of storage there are about $120 per ton, and the city says it averages about 600 tons of excess salt each year, costing $72,000 in storage fees.

But a new facility would take care of this issue, holding 2,000 tons of salt.

"The payback may be five years, seven years, may be 20 depending on the seasons we have," said Cudahy Mayor John Hohenfeldt. "The good news is it’s an investment in our community that’s going to save money in the long run."

Hohenfeldt also says the current facility is falling apart and it's more cost-efficient to build a new structure, rather than continuously repairing the old one.

"I equate it to having a used car you get to the point where you can’t keep dumping money into it," Hohenfeldt said. "That’s what our salt dome has done, it’s outlived its useful life."

Loferski requested another meeting with the city so the public can have some of their concerns addressed. On Monday night, the Board of Public Works held a meeting, but did not allow the public to ask any questions since the city says public hearings are not held at the board of public works.

Now Loferski says he's hoping for an opportunity at the next common council meeting to ask questions about the costs associated with the new building.

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