With another winter storm rolling into the area today, officials in some counties are eyeing their dwindling road salt supplies warily.
Multiple snow and ice storms in December have caused counties throughout the area to use much more salt than usual. Some road departments are struggling with low supplies and expended salt budgets, but Boyle County and Danville officials said they’re in good shape.
Boyle County Public Works Director Duane Campbell said the county road department received a new shipment of 200 tons of road salt last week, so Boyle is well-prepared for the coming storm.
Danville Public Works Assistant Director Ronnie Yates said the city’s salt bin is also “pretty full.”
“The city’s done real well this year,” Yates said. “They’ve been able to get the salt in real quick.”
Campbell estimated Boyle County has used twice the usual amount of salt so far. All that extra salt adds up to a cost of about $26,000, but Campbell said a generous road salt budget designed with this kind of winter in mind means the wintry roads aren’t causing Boyle any kinds of financial problems.
Salt may be plentiful in Boyle, but in Casey County and Harrodsburg, officials said shrinking reserves are an issue.
“We’re low on salt, but we’ve got salt on the way,” Casey County Road Foreman Randall Monday said. “We’re hoping (the salt arrives before the storm), but we’ve got other things we can do in case it doesn’t.”
Monday said salt has been in high demand in Casey County partly because continuously low temperatures prevented snow from melting after it fell in December.
“We’ve already used more than we usually use all year,” Monday said. “It’s been a bad year for us, but we’ll do whatever it takes.”
In Harrodsburg, officials are concerned about their salt supply as well.
City Commissioner Charlie Mattingly said the city already has used 90 percent of its allotted salt budget for the whole year.
“Just to put things into perspective, last year at this time, we only went through 20 percent of our salt budget,” Mattingly said.
Outside of Harrodsburg in Mercer County, however, there’s still plenty of salt to go around.
Supervisor Billy Humphrey said the Mercer County Road Department has a whopping 1,500 tons of road salt on hand.
That’s because Mercer likes to stockpile its salt right after winter passes, so it doesn’t have to pay higher prices for the salt at the beginning of the next winter, Humphrey said.
“We try to save as much money as we can,” he said.
Still, Mercer County already has purchased 900 tons of salt this winter to keep its stockpile full. The heavy December snows have used up more salt than the county usually uses in an entire winter, Humphrey said.
“We’re kind of dipping into our reserve,” he said.
A Lincoln County road department spokesman declined to comment on specifics of the county’s current salt supply or overall use this year.
“It’s just a typical year for us. We’ve got plenty of salt on hand, and we’re in good shape,” the spokesman said.
In Garrard County, Road Foreman Kenny Kinnaird said the county has replenished its salt stash during the slightly milder weather recently, but this winter has still been a brutal one, easily eclipsing last year.
“We’ve done used about 150 tons more than we did last year,” he said, pointing out there’s still much more winter to come.
Kinnaird said Garrard road employees each worked 50 hours of overtime the week of Christmas for a total of 90 hours each in one week.
Kinnaird said Garrard has seen worse winters but might not have ever used so much salt. In the past, people didn’t expect roads to be clear following a big snow storm.
Now that many more families have multiple bread winners, the need to get out of the house means a greater expectation on the road crew to keep the roads clear, he said.
“It used to be that people stayed in,” Kinnaird said. “I guess we’ve got them spoiled.”
Staff Writer Erich L. Ruehs contributed to this report.