Because of the mild winter, the city saved money.
Instead of spending about $20,000 on salt, Public Service Director Chris Murphy said he spent $6,800.
That's because he only sent crews out on city streets three times for snow removal.
“That definitely saved the city in overtime costs,” he said. “And we've got enough salt to last us until December. Anytime you don't have an output of labor and material costs you save money.”
During a normal winter, the city uses 200 to 250 tons of salt at $54 per ton. But this year, only 126 tons were needed.
The unused salt will remain in a bin near the city garage on Mary Ann Street until it is needed again.
The city does not keep all 250 tons at the garage, however. Instead, it just keeps what is needed.
“We keep track of how much salt we have in the bin during the winter,” Murphy said. “We order more if we're low and the snow is forecast.”
Murphy said it costs $83 per hour to have crews removing snow and plowing the roads. Because the crews were not needed much this winter, labor costs also were down.
Even though winter is over, the city is still saving money. That's because snow and ice cause pot holes which must be repaired in the spring.
“We have a lot less pot holes now because we didn't get much snow,” Murphy said. “So that saves us labor and asphalt costs. The warmer winter has created a domino effect as far as saving money is concerned.”
Murphy also said because salt trucks were not needed as much, the city saved on truck maintenance and fuel costs.
National Weather Service meteorologist Robin Gerhardt said the milder weather was caused by an upper level ridge which allowed warmer air to flow.
The NWS does not have a tracking station in Portsmouth. But Cincinnati experienced its warmest January since 1890 and its fourth warmest overall.
Chances are good that the city will save money next winter too. Gerhardt said above-normal temperatures and stable precipitation are expected, according to long-term weather prediction models.
JEFF BARRON can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.