MARIETTA - Although some state and local governments in Ohio are expected to save money on salt costs this coming winter, not all are reaping savings.
"The cost is about the same as what we paid last year," said Washington County Engineer Bob Badger.
Washington County paid about $64 per ton of salt during winter 2011, and will pay approximately $64 per ton for the upcoming winter, Badger reported.
The Ohio Department of Transportation announced this week it would save local municipalities across the state more than $10 million as a result of a change in the way salt contracts are obtained. Instead of companies bidding to provide salt on a county by county basis, salt contracts were bid by district as well as counties. That lowered the statewide average cost of salt to $40.91 a ton, but locally, communities are still planning to spend more.
Thanks to last winter's milder temperatures, Washington County spent $413,000 for snow and ice control (including labor, equipment and material) compared to $721,000 for winter 2010, said Badger.
Washington County is budgeting for 600 tons of salt for the upcoming winter.
"All six of our storage buildings are already full and we haven't bought any out of this year's bid," Badger said. "If we get a bad winter, we might have to go for more."
Money left over in the county's annual snow and ice control budget is used for road maintenance like patching and chip and seal, bridge replacement and road resurfacing.
ODOT District 10's salt bins are full with 43,240 tons on hand, according to Steve Williams, district deputy director.
ODOT's District 10, which services Washington, Morgan, Monroe, Noble, Vinton, Meigs, Hocking, Athens and Gallia counties, used about 19,000 tons during last winter's balmier temps, compared to 30,000 tons in an "average winter," Williams said.
ODOT's District 10 set aside $2.5 million for salt per year in 2011 and again in 2012. However, the district has no official salt budget.
"If it snows, we need to treat the roads," said Williams. "We need to get the funds wherever we can to remove the snow."
ODOT's District 10 will pay $56.61 per ton of salt purchased this coming winter compared to $65.11 per ton last winter.
Unused salt monies will go into ODOT's District 10 capital program for construction projects including resurfacing, bridge replacement and safety upgrades.
Beverly also has "salt" in reserve from last winter's snow removal season, according to Pamela Jackson, the village's fiscal officer.
In a normal winter, Beverly would use approximately 50 tons of Safe-T-Salt, a product that works similar to salt.
"We probably have at least 25 tons left from last year, so we won't have to order as much," Jackson said.
Beverly plans to purchase 25 additional tons of Safe-T-Salt at $69.35 per ton. Last winter the village paid $79.10 per ton of Safe-T-Salt.
Any savings to Beverly's street funds budget is carried over from year to year, Jackson said.
"This would allow us to do more maintenance and repair to our streets like repair potholes, street paving or putting gravel on allies," said Jackson.
Belpre Township stopped using salt on its roads over 14 years ago, said Asa Boring, Trustee for Belpre Township.
"The cost of salt just became too expensive," Boring said.
Belpre Township uses cinders instead.
"The majority of our roads are gravel," said Boring. "Salt does not work for gravel because it just softens the road up and makes a big, muddy mess."
Belpre Township pays $12 per ton of cinders.
"A ton of cinders goes a lot further than a ton of salt," Boring said.
Belpre Township also prefers to use cinders to prevent the road damage that comes from salt use.
"We have potholes when we use salt," said Boring. "You just can't deny that."
Most townships in Washington County use cinders or sand because they cannot afford salt and because many of their roads are gravel, Boring added.