Archive for Thursday, January 12, 2006

City to try its hand at sales on eBay

January 12, 2006

The city will try its hand at selling five used police cars the high-tech way: using eBay, the online auction house.

Lansing City Council members last week directed city staff to put the cars up for auction rather than accept a bid of $1,000 per car from a vendor that is going to install emergency lighting equipment on new cars.

"I think we owe it to the taxpayers to get as much return on these vehicles as possible, and $1,000 is just not satisfactory," said Council member Robert Ulin.

The council's action came during a vote in which it approved the purchase of five new vehicles for the Police Department. The department was given the OK to purchase three 2006-model Dodge Chargers and two 2006-model Ford Crown Victorias, all outfitted with police packages, for a total of $113,906.

Rusty Eck Ford, Leavenworth, will provide the Crown Victorias at a cost of $23,919 per vehicle; Briggs Dodge in Topeka will provide the Chargers at a cost of $22,023 per vehicle.

As for selling the used police cars, the city would be responsible for eBay fees of up to $80 per car: a $40 nonrefundable listing fee and a $40 transaction services fee charged once the minimum bid on the car is met.

"We have never tried it, and I'm not so sure that this might not be the way to look," said City Administrator Mike Smith.

Council member Andi Pawlowski cautioned her colleagues of hidden costs in using eBay.

"There is staff time there that we have to account for," she said. "It's not just dollars and cents."

But Ulin said the city didn't have anything to lose putting the vehicles in an online auction.

"There are professionals who do it and make a lot of money at it. I'm sure that I could get somebody up here to train staff how to do it," he said, adding, "The staff is already being paid."

Leavenworth County has used online auctions for surplus equipment and used vehicles, and County Commissioner Clyde Graeber said the practice reportedly was a success for the county.

"On cars we had sold, everyone felt we did better there than had we just put them up for, shall we call it, 'general sale,'" Graeber said.

Keyta Kelly, the county's attorney-at-large, handles most of the online auction business for the county but was out of the office earlier this week and could not be reached for comment.

The cars the city is selling are Ford Crown Victorias, ranging in age from the 1997 model year to the 2000 model year, and with mileage ranging from 104,000 miles to 147,000 miles, officials say.

A spot check Tuesday on eBay showed several Crown Victorias with Police Interceptor packages for sale. A 1997 model with 127,000 miles was being sold by a dealer in Lubbock, Texas, and had received six bids with a top offering of $1,311, less than the seller's reserve. A 2000 model with 152,000 miles being sold out of Chicago had received nine bids topping out at $1,625.

Those figures would be more in line with what Council President Kenneth Ketchum would like to see from the sale of the vehicles. At Thursday's meeting, he said getting just $1,000 apiece for the cars left him with a little heartburn.

"I just think that we could make more money - especially from the people who run taxi cabs and what not - we could probably make more money by putting them out here and putting a $1,500 or $2,000 price tag on them first-come, first-served, and I think we could sell every one of them," Ketchum said.

Smith said the eBay sale of the cars would come later this spring, coinciding with the arrival dates of the new cars.

In other action Tuesday, the council:

¢ Approved, 6-0, its Dec. 15 regular meeting minutes. Council members Kenneth Ketchum and Robert Ulin, who were absent Dec. 15, abstained.

¢ Approved, 6-2, an Economic Development and Library request to purchase two Dodge Chrysler mini vans through a State of Kansas bidding program for $15,771.70 per vehicle. Council members Billy Blackwell and Harland Russell voted against the request. Blackwell and Russell expressed concerns about the rapid growth in the city's fleet and asked that the city consider shared use of vehicles by departments or a motor pool.

¢ Approved, 8-0, a resolution requesting construction on De Soto Road. Public Works director John Young said the resolution was required by state and federal authorities to receive the $2 million federal earmark for the resurfacing and widening of the road.

¢ Approved, 8-0, ordinances annexing the western half of the right of way of 147th Street and a portion of U.S. Highway 73. Leavenworth County and the Kansas Department of Transportation requested the annexations.

¢ Approved, 8-0, an ordinance for controlling sediment and erosion during construction projects.

¢ Approved, 8-0, an ordinance prohibiting the illicit discharge of pollutants into the municipal storm sewer system.

¢ Approved, 8-0, a conditional use permit for the operation of a daycare at 582 Hithergreen Drive.

¢ Approved, 8-0, an ordinance laying out the Code of Procedures for City Council meetings. The code would replace "Roberts Rules of Order" as the official procedure.

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