A Story of a City and Their Residential Salt Bucket Service
Pleasant Ridge, MI – Living in a small town has its perks. And for the 2,500 people who call Pleasant Ridge home, one of those perks is being able to put a pail at the curb to be filled with salt by workers who make the rounds each winter month.
There is no extra cost to residents, though the salt is purchased by the city with tax dollars. When asked about the cost, City Manager James Breuckman explained “It’s fairly negligible – a 5 gallon bucket contains about 50 pounds of salt, which costs the City about $1.50. We also have labor costs to deliver it which are variable, but the total cost to fill a 5-gallon bucket is less than $4.”
Buying in bulk is what makes it a good value for the residents. “It costs $8 or $9 for a 50 lb. bag of rock salt at the store, while it costs the City $4 or less to deliver the same amount of salt, so it costs the City less than half what it would cost a resident to buy the salt at a store.”
The program has been happening for at least decades, and is something that residents in the .56 square mile city have come to expect from their local government.
But it’s not just an amenity for the sake of being nice. There are benefits beyond cost savings and convenience.
“Safety and cost are the biggest benefits. By providing salt to residents we are helping them keep their sidewalks and driveways clear of ice. It’s a useful service for all residents, but in particular we hope that this helps our elderly residents by delivering a heavy, bulky item right to their property,” Breuckman said.
Salt is delivered October through April, so residents are welcome to stock up. Breuckman said the city doesn’t track the number of homes that participate, but that he will have the workers do a count this season.
City officials are aware of the damage salt does to the environment. They are careful to not over-salt the streets, reducing usage in recent years. However, it’s still the best method they have for keeping roads, sidewalks, and driveways safe.
“We continue to provide the service because the safety benefits of salting sidewalks and driveways outweigh the environmental issues from small amounts of salt, said the City Manager.
Mayor Kurt Metzger counts this among the “extra services that our residents so appreciate,” also mentioning snow removal, monthly brush pick up, and street leaf pick up (even if this year has been more difficult due to the early snow).
Even with the salt service, sometimes people need a reminder. “While our streets are well taken care of, we expect our residents to clear their sidewalks and be a good neighbor,” Mayor Metzger said.
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