New surplus sales showing promise

Published 12:15 am Tuesday, January 15, 2008

By Staff
When you’ve got a $52 million budget, like Beaufort County has, $20,000 is just pocket change, but it’s nice to see leaders are thinking outside the box when it comes to fiscal issues.
In years gone by, the county would hold an old-style auction every year to get rid of things that it no longer needed. The auction brought in some money to the county coffers, but mostly it was a long and troublesome process. County employees had to catalog, itemize, inventory and supervise the sale.
Some items yielded pennies on the dollar. Some items simply didn’t sell at all.
That’s not happening anymore. A year ago the county began working with a for-profit Web site, When Beaufort County has a vehicle or anything else that it no longer needs, it can be placed on-line for sale in a matter of minutes and sold in a matter of days.
The county is quickly finding out that it can get more money on-line for many items.
Apparently, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office is thrifty. When one of its vehicles was wrecked, anything of value was taken off it before turning it over to the insurance company. That included hub caps, which later sold for $57 on
One seller drove down from New York after submitting the winning bid for broken Motorola radios. He paid $120 for the lot, and Beaufort County officials were pleased to get rid of the clutter.
The buyers don’t just come from out of town.
Beaufort County leaders were sensitive that some people who had frequented the old-style auctions might not like the new way. Turns out most buyers were happy to adapt, and even happier that they didn’t have to wait for the annual event.
Some of the surplus items come with restrictions. When the county sold traffic-safety vests and law-enforcement jackets, it stipulated that the buyer had to be with a law-enforcement agency because they still carried the “Sheriff” label.
Chrisman says the next evolution may be that county officials look to the Web site when it comes to buying items, not just selling them.
Last week, the City of Raleigh was trying to sell 2,000 old water meters. They’ve been listed before, Chrisman said, but haven’t sold.