DARKE COUNTY — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office announced that 850 public entities in Ohio will be the beneficiaries of an $11.5 million settlement reached with Cargill Inc. and Morton Salt Inc.
The state had filed an antitrust lawsuit against the two companies, alleging that Cargill and Morton had colluded to divide up the rock salt market in Ohio and agreed to not compete against each other for public bids during a period ending in 2010.
The Attorney General’s Office encouraged Ohio public entities to submit a claim for the share of the settlement based on the total amount of rock salt they purchased from Cargill and/or Morton between 2008 and 2010, the timeframe for which the state could seek recovery in the case.
“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,” said DeWine. “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.”
By agreeing to the settlement, the two companies admit no wrongdoing, but also avoid a jury trial.
Of the 850 public entities sharing in the settlement are five in Darke County: Greenville, Bradford, Versailles, Union City (Ohio) and Darke County itself.
The largest amount slated to be disbursed in the county — $12,145.47 — will go to the City of Greenville.
Greenville Safety/Service Director Curt Garrison said that while the city had not yet been officially notified by the Attorney General’s Office regarding payment, any money received will be deposited into the city’s general fund, and that moving the money to the city’s street department will be a future decision of the Greenville City Council.
“The city is grateful for the work of the State Attorney General Dewine and his office because this was a huge task that smaller municipalities and county agencies would not have had the wherewithal to challenge,” said Garrison.
Darke County Engineer Jim Surber said he didn’t expect the county to recover as much as it will, in this case, $10,352.90.
“We’re happy the amount is what it is,” he said, noting that the money will go into the county’s road and bridge fund.
Of the other Darke County municipalities, Bradford will receive $1,516.68, Versailles will get $1,168.36, and Union City, $500.
The Ohio Department of Transportation, the largest user of rock salt in the state, will receive the most sizeable amount from the settlement — $1.7 million.