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A mild winter and low snowfall totals last year has proved advantageous for local public works crews.
Stockpiles of salt are stored and ready for the first blast of winter as prices have fallen across the board. Heftier supplies of salt are available because of less demand.
Ronnie Goodman, county road supervisor, said his department only used 22 1/2 tons of salt last season because of warmer winter temperatures and the cultivation of its own brine.
“The brine worked out well for us last year,” Goodman said.
The amount of salt used last year was staggeringly low for the county, which routinely uses hundreds to thousands of tons of salt to keep county roadways clear each season.
By using brine in place of salt, Goodman said, the county kept local stores stocked in preparation for this season. The county has more than 2,300 tons of salt stored in its barns, he said, which is more than what is normally stored. Goodman said the county keeps an average of 2,000 tons in storage but has more this year because it is contractually obligated to purchase at least 1,000 tons each year from its supplier.
“We took the absolute bare minimum,” Goodman said.
Because this year’s contract has “not been touched,” the county can purchase an additional 4,000 tons at less than $68 per ton, which is down slightly from last year’s cost.
The county has turned to a homemade brine program in recent years to cut down on the need for salt. Goodman said his department started off with a 350-gallon tank and later a 1,000-gallon tank. Brine sprayers have been outfitted on several trucks and are “ready to go,” he said.
Elizabethtown has 400 tons in storage and an additional 800 tons on reserve if conditions call for it, said Public Works Superintendent Don Hill.
“We’re full,” he said.
Hill said the city used about 175 tons on two snowfalls last year, which is a considerable reduction from its average winter use of 775 tons.
“It was light, yes, it was mild,” Hill said of last season.
Hill said the city keeps around 400 tons in storage and had about 200 tons left after last year, purchasing an additional 200 tons this year at $62.85 per ton to replenish its stock. Hill said the current rate is around $6 cheaper than the year before, attributing the fall in prices to the decrease in demand and the milder winter.
Radcliff also is well stocked. Corky Barnes, administrative assistant for the city’s public works de-partment, did not have an exact figure on salt used last year, but said it did not exceed 250 tons, a smaller amount than usual. The city used more than 400 tons two years ago and experienced a shortage, forcing the department to use sand as an alternative, Barnes said.
Chance Fox, the city’s chief financial officer, said Radcliff spent roughly $22,800 of the $25,000 budgeted for salt last year because it needed to fully restock from the previous season to make up for the shortage. Because of that, the city could see a savings in this year’s budget because less salt was used last season. Fox said the city increased its salt budget once it started spending more than allocated as supplies ran low.
Barnes said Radcliff has roughly 300 tons on hand and made provisions to purchase another 150 tons if needed at a cost between $66 and $67 per ton, which Barnes said is “six or seven dollars cheaper than last year.”
Chris Jessie, public information officer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 4 office in Elizabethtown, said the state used 999 tons of salt last season in Hardin County. Only 3,760 tons were used throughout its 11-county district. Jessie said the state has 4,528 tons in storage for Hardin County and more than 21,000 tons available district wide with more than 9,000 tons on reserve from storage in Louisville. The state’s average salt cost is $70 per ton, he said.
“Last year’s light winter season enabled us to keep much of the supply/reserve,” Jessie wrote in an e-mail.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or email@example.com.