MOUNT VERNON — To the average person, the mild winter of 2011-12 has meant unused snow shovels and lower heating bills. To local governments, it has meant cost savings at a time when every little bit helps and maybe a problem of where to store surplus salt.
Of course, late-season storms could still change the final figures.
Ohio Department of Transportation District 5 has used less than half the salt it used last year, as well as less than half the brine and drove half as many miles. That translates into more than $3 million in savings.
“Any money saved from snow and ice season goes directly into the Capital Program,” said Michelle Croom of the Public Information office, “Which means more dollars for construction and/or maintenance of roads and bridges.”
According to figures provided by Croom, as of March 9, the seven-county district used 62,800 tons of salt in the winter of 2010-11, while this season it has used only 29,400 tons. It used 9,700 tons in Knox County last year and only 4,500 this year.
The district used 543,100 gallons of brine in 2010-11, compared to 166,000 gallons this year. In Knox County the totals were 126,500 gallons last year and 34,400 gallons this season.
Truck operators drove 714,200 miles last season and 351,800 miles this year. Of that, 78,600 miles were in Knox County last year and 39,300 miles this year.
All of that turns into a total cost of $9 million in 2010-11 and $5.067 million this season. The total cost in Knox County was $1.124 million last season and $658,700 this season.
Knox County Engineer Jim Henry said the county won’t see big savings on salt purchases, but overtime costs have been down and a plan to change the equipment on the salt trucks could produce significant savings.
Henry explained that on the salt purchases, the county contracts with the Ohio Department of Transportation to be part of bulk purchases that are cheaper than the county can obtain on its own. Under terms of the contract, the county does not have to pay for more than 120 percent of the contracted amount, but it must pay for at least 80 percent of the amount.