Auction: Bid high, buy low
Wanna buy a police car?
How about nine of them?
The City of Port Aransas is selling that many former patrol vehicles, plus dozens more pieces of city property in an online auction that is scheduled to begin on Monday, June 21, and end July 7.
It’s the first time in two years that the city has held an auction to get rid of surplus property. And it’s the first time ever that the city has chosen to conduct an auction entirely through the World Wide Web, according to Darla Honea, the city’s finance director. Previously, auctions of city property were held in person, at the Civic Center and other locations.
CITY ONLINE AUCTION
WHEN: JUNE 21 - JULY 7
MORE INFORMATION: RED@CITYOFPORTARANSAS.ORG SYLVIACORTEZ@CITYOFPORTARANSAS.ORG
Interim City Manager Dave Parsons said the city is hoping that the decision to conduct the auction entirely online will result in the city bringing in more money from the event. The online method will reach more potential buyers, he said.
“It’s just way more bang for the buck,” Parsons said. “It’s our fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers to generate as much income from this as possible.”
Anyone interested in checking out the items that are up for grabs can go to www. renebates.com, a Web site that “specializes in online auctions of municipal and utility company fleet vehicles and equipment,” according to the site. Once on the site’s main page, the viewer can scroll about halfway down the page to find a listing for the Port Aransas auction.
The city didn’t have to pay anything to get its property set up for auctioning on the Web site, but Rene Bates Auctioneers Inc. will get seven and a half percent of proceeds, Honea said.
Some 121 items will be on the auction block. Besides the nine Ford Crown Victorias that once were police cruisers, items to be up for bid will include nine pickup trucks, computer equipment, diving equipment, a backhoe, more than 50 bicycles and scooters, fishing equipment, lawn mowers and much more.
Much of the property, like the bicycles and fishing equipment, was property that was found and turned in to the police department, with no owner determined, said Port Aransas Police Chief Scott Burroughs.
Some pieces of property were recovered from suspects in thefts and burglaries, but police were unable to locate victims, the chief said.
A plastic Budweiser beer sign, the kind that’s designed to light up, is among the more oddball stuff that will be auctioned.
“It was found property from probably a couple of years ago,” said PAPD Lt. James Stokes. “Someone found it and turned it in to the P.D., and no one ever claimed it. So, we threw it into the auction rather than throw it in the trash.”
The Web site contains photos of all of the items to be auctioned. Interested parties can inspect the items in person by calling and setting up appointments with city workers.
Some items are at the city transfer station, also known as the dump. (To inspect property at the transfer station, contact Red Babb at (361) 438-6507 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Babb also should be contacted for certain items stored in the area of city hall. Sylvia Cortez and Honea may be contacted for certain other items stored in the area of city hall. They can be reached at 749- 4111 or at sylviacortez@cityofportara nsas.org or dhonea@cityofportaransas. org. The auctioneer’s Web site explains specifically which person to contact for each item.)
No opening bid prices were listed on the Web site yet as of Tuesday, June 15, but they will be posted by the time bidding opens, Honea said. The online service will establish the amounts of the opening bids, she said.
The city’s last auction was held in February 2008. City records indicated that the city brought in $3,134 from the event, Honea said.
The city is getting rid of a lot of its vehicles as part of belt-tightening measures that city officials enlisted during the process of drawing up a budget last year.
“With the economy being what it is, part of our agreement with the city has been to reduce expenses associated with maintaining a large police fleet,” Burroughs said.
Some, but not all, of the police cars are being replaced by new vehicles. A federal grant paid for two of those new cars over the past year, Burroughs said.
The former police cars feature some advantages over standard vehicles found on ordinary car lots, Burroughs said. The police cars have beefed-up suspensions, extra reinforcement in the roof (to accommodate overhead emergency lights and the possibility of a rollover).
The units also include extra-large wheels for better handling. And Burroughs said the vehicles were maintained well at the city maintenance shop.
The auctioneer’s Web site contains the following disclaimer with each description it lists of an item: “This item is used and may contain defects that are not immediately detectable. Text description given is meant to be used as a guide only! You are responsible for inspecting before bidding. All information provided is believed to be correct but no warranty as such is either intended or implied. All items are sold as is – where is and with all faults and defects therein.”