The so-far mild winter in Northeast Ohio means Kent has only used a fraction of the road salt it has in stock, and the city's salt dome is literally overflowing with extra.
It sounds like a good problem to have — unless you're required by contract to buy even more salt than you can store.
Kent Service Director Gene Roberts said the city started this winter off with a full salt barn of 4,800 tons (max capacity is 5,000 tons) thanks to last year's mild winter, which saw the city use little road salt.
"We have used 400 tons to date this winter," Roberts said in an email.
That's less than 10 percent of the city's salt reserves used half way through the winter.
Like many Northeast Ohio communities, Kent contracts with the Ohio Department of Transportation to buy salt from area producers at negotiated rates.
That ODOT contract stipulates Kent must buy a minimum of 2,800 tons of road salt this year. The contract allows the city to buy up to 4,200 tons for the 2012-2013 winter months.
In past years the city agreed to contract terms that required Kent to buy a minimum 3,600 tons of road salt and up to a maximum 5,600 tons, Roberts said.
"The reason we reduced our obligation by 1,000 tons was based on last year's snowfall requiring little salt," he said. "The minimum purchase of this year's contract of 2,800 tons will require us to use an additional 2,200 tons of road salt before the end of this winter."
The city can't make room in its salt barn for all the salt it has yet to buy under contract without snow and sloppy roads calling for its use.
Salt can't simply be stored outside because rain and snow will dissolve it, Roberts said.
"In terms of additional storage, we will most likely first check with other facilities within Portage County for surplus storage capacity that may be available," Roberts said. "And if not available, (we) will store it on the ground on top of tarps and cover it with tarps."
For once, city officials may actually find themselves wishing for snow.