Unusually warm weather means cities saving money on road salt

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CLEVELAND - The unseasonably warm weather has meant some Northeast Ohio communities are saving big money. A lack of early season snowfall has required less road salt and less spending in staff overtime to treat icy roadways.

Shaker Heights, which is among the cities that experienced salt shortages during recent, harsher snow seasons, currently has an abundance of salt. It purchased 2,000 tons of salt through the state of Ohio in spring, and has only used about 10 percent of that so far this season, according to Shaker Heights Assistant Director of Public Works John Becker. Becker said the city has only had one to two snow events so far, compared with more than a dozen at this point last year.

"Years past there have always been that supply and demand issue, but because Mother Nature has been so kind to us, we've been able to keep ample supply on hand," Becker said.

According to figures provided by the Shaker Heights Public Works Department, the city spent $138,876 on salt purchases between October and December of 2014, as well as $29,368 on staff overtime to treat roads during that time period. Becker said the city has not had to purchase any additional salt yet this season, and has spent only about $1,000 on staff overtime.

"There's also a cost savings involved that helps the city save that money and use our resources other places," Becker said, adding that the city has been able to focus on projects like street repairs and debris removal that would typically have to wait until spring.

Other cities are experiencing the same thing. The City of Cleveland used 6,103 tons of road salt between November 1 and December 21, 2014, at a cost of $55.22 per ton, or a total of $337,008, according to figures from the Cleveland Division of Streets. During the same time period this year, the city used 703 tons of road salt at a cost of $53.89 per ton, totaling $37,182.

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