Salt is piled high and plows have been unused at local street and highway departments.

Across Johnson County, mild temperatures in November and December have meant salting and plowing have been nearly non-existent.

The warmer than usual weather has meant savings for local governments, including not needing to replace salt that has been used, spending less on fuel and not paying overtime for workers clearing roads.

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Inside the storage barn at the county highway department, about 3,000 tons of salt is waiting to be used, Johnson County Highway Director Luke Mastin said.

With 600 miles of roads to clear, the county would have already used at least some of that salt, and had to reorder more at a price of $73 per ton.

The county has used almost 200 fewer gallons of fuel, and workers are finding more time for other projects, such as fixing pot holes and cleaning up limbs.

“We’ll take a light winter,” Mastin said. “We haven’t had to work a snow shift yet this season. I anticipate our savings will be pretty significant this year.”

In 2014, snow began falling as early as November, forcing the Greenwood street department to order more salt before the colder winter months of January and February had even arrived, Street Superintendent Kenny Duncan said.

Now, more than 300 tons of salt is still waiting to be used, Deputy Mayor Terry McLaughlin said.

Not using any salt has saved the city money, but Greenwood also is saving on overtime and fuel, McLaughlin said.

The city has about $65,000 budgeted for overtime for its 23 full-time street workers, but none of that has had to be used so far this winter, Duncan said. And eight city trucks, each with 75-gallon fuel tanks, have not had to be used, saving even more money, Duncan said.

“A massive amount of money is spent to get the roads clean, so any time you’re not using those services, it’s a great savings,” McLaughlin said.

Franklin’s street department has about 10 trucks, but only six have been used this winter for tree and limb pick up, Franklin Street Commissioner Brett Jones said.

All 14 employees have been able to work on projects, such as filling potholes, Jones said. And so far, the city hasn’t had to spend money from its $15,000 overtime budget.

“If the weather goes well, you don’t have a bunch of expenditures,” Jones said.

“It’s been good so far. I would assume we’re saving some money.”

But with just one heavy snowfall, the savings could be impacted, local officials said.

“Each winter varies so much. We still have January, February and March to get through, so it’s difficult to draw a comparison,” Mastin said.

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Corey Elliot is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2719.