Local entities receive money from salt lawsuit settlement

GALLIPOLIS — With an announcement from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Gallia County entities are set to receive a small piece of funds from a settlement to resolve an antitrust lawsuit with salt companies over past salt prices.

According to information obtained from the Gallia County Engineer’s Office, Cheshire Township received a settlement check for $500, the city of Gallipolis received $975.39 and the engineer’s office received $2,088.42. Money received totaled at $3,563.81.

According to information obtained from Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, Cargill and Mortal Salt agreed to resolve a 2012 lawsuit by paying roughly $11.5 million to various entities. The antitrust lawsuit brought forth by DeWine’s office accused the companies of splitting Ohio rock salt markets. The pair allegedly agreed to avoid the competitive public bidding process around a time period near 2010. Neither companies admitted to wrongdoing, but paid the money before a jury trial began.

“When I announced this settlement in June, I indicated my intention to return a significant portion of the money to local agencies and governments that buy rock salt,” DeWine said. “We know these agencies stretch public funds and taxpayer dollars as far as possible, and we hope this money will help them make roads safer for the citizens who depend on them.”

According to Gallia County Engineer Brett Boothe, the money received from the settlement was small, but that “every little bit counts.” With damage from record-high flood waters earlier this summer, he said the engineer’s office is doing its best to make use of whatever resources it has to get back on track in rehabilitating ruined infrastructures across the county.

The engineer said he remembered salt being a little more than $100 per ton during the attorney general’s questioned time period. This year, the engineer’s office paid $69.04 per rock salt ton from a company called Compass Salt.

While the engineer’s office does the best it can to manage past flood damage, Federal Emergency Management Agency funds have not been contributed to the the issue. Some local entities are hoping the Ohio Emergency Management Agency will contribute.

Boothe discussed the possibility of using a brine and beet juice mixture to aid in combating ice issues during the 2016-17 winter. He said that other Ohio counties were already making use of the concoction in hopes of increasing ice-fighting efficiency and making the best use of taxpayer funding.

Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.

By Dean Wright