INDEPENDENCE — The checks are in the mail for several local county agencies and municipalities. Each will receive part of the Ohio Attorney General’s $11.5 million settlement to resolve an antitrust lawsuit against Cargill Inc. and Morton Salt Inc. over past rock salt prices.
Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Thursday that his office will be sending checks to 850 entities in 87 Ohio counties who will receive settlement funds.
The city of Sidney will receive a check for $8,346.39 as its portion of the settlement. The Shelby County Engineer will receive $14,203.55.
In Auglaize County, the village of New Bremen will receive $2,901.28. The city of Wapakoneta will receive $16,745.73.
In Darke County, the county engineer will receive $10,352,90. The village of Versailles will receive $1,168.36.
The Logan County Engineer’s Office will receive $14,519.16, while the Miami County Engineer’s Office will receive $36,540.88.
Sidney City Manager Mark Cundiff said Thursday that the city had not received any communication from the attorney general about what it will get from the settlement. However, he said the amount listed is “about 3 percent of what we spent during that time period” in buying salt from Cargill and Morton.
Sidney spent $116,081 on rock salt in 2014, Cundiff said, and so far this year, has spent about $59,000. He estimated the city will spend a total of $100,000 before the end of this year. The city has budgeted $87,600 next year for salt because the city has a good supply on hand. “We’ve got some pretty good reserves,” he said.
“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.”
Shelby County Engineer Bob Geuy said he was surprised by the amount the county will receive — $14,203.55.
“I was surprised by the dollar amount,” said Geuy. “I’m pleased by it. I didn’t think we would get that much.”
The real work begins for his office now that they know the amount the county is receiving.
“We have to go back and evaluate how we’re going to distribute the money to the entities who bought salt from us,” said Geuy.
All of the villages in the county plus 12 or 13 of the townships purchase their salt from the county, he said.
“We not sure if we’re going to credit them on what the purchase this year or reduce their costs,” said Geuy. “We just not sure at all how we’re going to do it.”
Geuy said with today’s notification, they will get to work and get the money “out to everybody.”
DeWine’s settlement with Cargill and Morton Salt resolved a 2012 lawsuit accusing the companies of dividing up the Ohio rock salt market and agreeing not to compete with each other for public bids during a period ending in 2010.
Although Morton and Cargill admitted no wrongdoing, they agreed to pay $11.5 million to resolve the state’s case, just before a jury trial was set to begin.
Of the total settlement, about $6.8 million was available to local governments. Additional payments were allotted to the state’s largest single rock salt purchaser — the Ohio Department of Transportation ($1.7 million), the Ohio Turnpike Commission ($174,435), and, as required by law, the state’s antitrust fund.
Over the summer, the Attorney General’s Office encouraged Ohio public entities to submit a claim for a share of the settlement based on the total amount of rock salt they purchased from Cargill and/or Morton between 2008 and 2010, the time frame for which the state could seek recovery in the case.
The office received eligible claims from 848 Ohio public entities, each of which is receiving a check. Distribution amounts were calculated at a percentage of an entity’s total eligible rock salt purchase. To ensure that no entity received a check for just a few dollars, entities were guaranteed at least a minimum distribution of $500, except for one entity whose total purchase was just $319.
All public entities in Ohio can receive free help from the Ohio Attorney General’s Antitrust Section to detect possible anti-competitive activity. For more information, entities can contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.
Reach Melanie Speicher at 937-538-4822; email at [email protected]; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Reach Michael Seffrin at 937-538-4823, email at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @MikeSeffrinSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.