Coronavirus: Savings from mild winter could be used in local fight

The city of Dayton and Montgomery County didn’t use nearly as much salt as they did in each of the last two years this winter, which translated to them saving thousands on overtime and future purchases.

And the savings might go into the local fight against coronavirus and the virus’s economic consequences.

City workers only used about 3,200 tons of salt, Public Works Director Fred Stovall said, saying it was a mild winter compared to previous years. During the winter of 2018-2019, the city used about 8,000 tons of salt and the year before 11,000 tons were used.

Ohio, Miami Valley cities have saved millions due to mild winter

Dayton has more than 6,000 tons of salt in its reserves that it will be able to save for next year or use this year in case of an early spring snow.

“You can never predict Mother Nature,” Stovall said. “So we are well stocked on the salt and were prepared.”

Stovall also said chemical use was also down this year compared to previous years.

The city also saved money on worker overtime payments, Stovall said. This winter, the city spent about $84,000 in overtime payments compared to last year when they spent more than $200,000, Stovall said.

Typically that money would go back into the public works fund and could be used for summer work activities like cutting grass and maintenance, Stovall said. However, with the outbreak of COVID-19, the money could be used elsewhere.

Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner said the county saved upwards of $200,000 on salt this winter. He said they used about 5,500 tons and still have about 9,000 tons left over that they can save for next winter.

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Gruner said his office is in a difficult place right now as it relies on fuel tax, auto registration fees for funding. And with the coronavirus outbreak, the future revenue is unclear as people are being told to stay in their homes.

Because consumption may be down, the savings from the winter might help offset the losses and help the office get through with a tight budget in the coming months, he said.

Also, the state has spent nearly $38 million less this winter than last, the Ohio Department of Transportation said.

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