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Savings on salt may not be spent locally

April 13, 2012
By Ashley Rittenhouse - The Marietta Times (arittenhouse@mariettatimes.com) , The Marietta Times

Due to the mild winter, the amount of salt used in District 10 of the Ohio Department of Transportation was significantly less than the amount used last year.

According to figures provided by ODOT District 10 spokeswoman Brenna Slavens, there was less money spent on salt and grit in the district overall, as well as for each individual county in the district.

The district consists of Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Vinton and Washington counties.

"As of March 28, District 10 has used about 14,209 tons of salt this winter," she said. "Any savings will be put back into ODOT's capital fund, which is the fund for maintaining our infrastructures around the state. At this point in time, it's uncertain how much the districts will see, but we'll make sure Ohioans statewide and locally will have the safest routes to travel."

So far this fiscal year, the district has spent about $1 million on salt. The fiscal year began July 1, 2011 and will end June 30, 2012.

In fiscal year 2011, which ran from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011, a total of 32,128 tons of salt were used at a cost of about $2.3 million.

Fact Box

Q&A:?Washington County Engineer Bob Badger talks salt

A mild winter has translated into savings on salt and other materials used by the Washington County Engineering Department to treat roads.

The department purchases the road treatment materials with funds collected from motor vehicle registration fees and the gasoline tax, according to county engineer Bob Badger.

Q: How much has been spent so far on salt and sand this year, as compared to last year?

A: We spent 37 percent less between the first of January and the first of April. In 2011, we spent $51,094 from January through April for material and this year we spent $32,374. The total cost - equipment, manpower and everything else - we are 57 percent less than in 2011. In 2012 we've spent so far $74,047 and in 2011 we spent $175,651.

Q: Why are the percentages so much different?

A: Sometimes you have light snow and you spot spread the slippery areas. Some areas don't need it. No matter when you send the crews out you will spend the same on equipment and manpower but you will spend less on materials depending on the type of snow we have.

Q: Since there was so much less spent this year on road treatment, what does that mean?

A: It may mean we're going to cover the inflation of the other materials we buy, like the gravel and hot mix asphalt. We still have to buy the salt - we're under contract for a minimum amount. We haven't depleted the stock and we won't have to spend as much next fall because we've already got it.

Q: How much do you have on hand currently, and how much are you required to buy?

A: We have to buy 1,200 tons of salt this year and we have to buy 400 to 500 tons yet and we have to do that by mid-April. We've probably got 3,000 to 4,000 tons of mix.

Ashley Rittenhouse conducted this interview.

Salt Savings:

As of March 28, Ohio Department of Transportation District 10 had used about 14,209 tons of salt this winter.

So far this fiscal year, the district has spent about $1 million on salt. The fiscal year began July 1, 2011 and will end June 30, 2012.

In fiscal year 2011, which ran from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011, a total of 32,128 tons of salt were used at a cost of about $2.3 million.

In Washington County, money collected from the gasoline tax and motor vehicle registration fees is used to purchase salt, among other things, according to county engineer Bob Badger.

Last year, he said, his department collected $2,310,206 in gasoline taxes and $3,123,525 from motor vehicle registration fees.

"That's $87,540 less than the previous year and primarily that's due to the gasoline tax," he said. "As people start consuming less gallons, even though the price has gone up, the revenue for roads has gone down."

Badger added that his office receives 28 cents a gallon from gas purchased in the county, regardless of how much gas costs. He said his department receives disbursements monthly.

He noted there is a federal gas tax of 18.4 cents a gallon; however, his department only receives that funding if it applies for and is approved for a grant.

"You have to have a deficiency in the bridge, meaning it's not strong enough for current loads or it's functionally obsolete," Badger explained. "You have to meet certain rating criteria and be at or below that to be eligible for those funds. There's a priority list statewide for that."

The motor vehicle registration fees and gasoline tax are the county engineer department's only sources of funding. The 1 percent permissive sales tax was established by the county commissioners in 1983 for the purpose of road and bridge maintenance; however, it has been diverted over the years to other needs. The department has not received 1 permissive sales tax funds since 2009.

"People need to know the license plate taxes and the gasoline taxes are the fairest way to fund roads and bridges and it's earmarked for that only," Badger said. "In my opinion that's the way all the taxes should be. It should go for a (specific purpose) and nothing else. It takes the politics out of it."

 
 

 

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