BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Private snow removal companies predict slicker parking lots at malls, hospitals, business parks and other commercial properties this season due to a salt shortage.

“The supply is really a lot tighter than it’s ever been before,” said Jeff Sneller of Sneller Snow Systems in Byron Township. “Salt that once sold to the local snowplow contractors for around $60 per ton last year sold this fall for $125 per ton.”

In some cases, the supply just isn’t there. That’s in part because last year’s winters in the Midwest and South used up more salt than usual, leaving mines with no leftover inventory. Then two major Midwest salt mines had significant issues that cut their production over the summer: one mine had a months-long strike and the other dealt with a leak.

The shortage prompted Sneller to look for salt overseas for the first time in his company’s 34-year history. He found some in the North African county of Morocco, but also paid nearly double to get it to West Michigan.

“And then you pass (the cost) on,” Jeff Rylaarsdam of Eco Green Supply in Wyoming explained. “The end user ultimately has to pay for it to some degree.”

In the case of private contractors like Eco Green Supply and Sneller Snow Systems, the end users are commercial businesses that need clear, safe parking lots to protect from liability due to slips and falls.

Rylaarsdam predicts the snow removal price for commercial properties could increase 30 to 40 percent this season.

Eco Green, which is also buying salt offshore to prepare for this season, is being forced to turn away new customers. Three contractors in need of salt called Monday alone.

“They’re cut off from their other sources,” Rylaarsdam explained. “They’re not able to secure salt where they bought it before.”

The salt shortage will not impact salt availability for government road crews. Cities and counties buy salt together in bulk, and salt mines give those orders priority, filling them first. You should also be able to find bags of salt for your walkway at home with no problem.

However, Rylaarsdam and Sneller both fear the parking lots you frequent might be slicker than usual this season as contractors use less salt to reserve inventory or commercial properties balk at higher prices and choose to cut back.

Jeff Sneller says that due to creative sourcing, his company should have enough salt to last the season by early November.

If you’re looking to hire a private snow removal company that uses salt, Sneller urged you to first ask if the contractor has an adequate supply of salt.

Also, expect that prices might increase through the season.