BY FAIMON A. ROBERTS III
Advocate staff writer
June 18, 2012
The city-parish has made $125,581 in two auctions since it began using the online site municibid.com to sell surplus items, officials said.
The first auction, which ended May 4, netted the city-parish $124,825 on the sale of 46 items, said Patti Wallace, the acting director of purchasing for the city-parish. The second auction earned $756 on the sale of surplus court furniture, Wallace said.
“Overall, it far exceeded our expectations,” Wallace said. “We are very pleased.”
The municibid.com website, which caters to municipalities and government agencies, was chosen as part of an effort by Mayor-President Kip Holden’s office to use technology to reduce costs and increase revenue, Wallace said before the first online auction in April.
Before moving to conduct auctions online, the Purchasing Department had to borrow employees from other departments to staff yearly on-site auctions, Wallace said.
The online site allows the city-parish’s purchasing department to cut back on administrative staff and handle the auctions entirely with just two assigned staff, she said.
Some items in the first auction earned a little more than they typically did in on-site auctions, Wallace said.
“Quite a few items, like tractors, it exceeded,” she said. Other items, such as cars, earned about the same, she said.
Office equipment brought less than it normally did in on-site auctions, Wallace said.
Revenue from the auctions is distributed back to the departments who owned the inventory, she said.
Municibid doesn’t charge the city-parish to host the auction on its website but instead charges the buyer an eight percent “buyers final sale fee,” which it collects directly from the winning bidder, Wallace said.
The city-parish has a one-year contract with municibid, with two 12-month renewal options for a maximum contract length of 36 months, Wallace said in April.
The second auction created some interesting challenges, Wallace said.
“We were auctioning off court benches and chairs,” she said. “We didn’t know what to expect, because those items are very specialized.”
Ryan Adair, of Brookhaven, Miss., bought “about 25” of the court benches, he said.
Adair paid $218 for the benches, he said, some of which he planned to donate to the Salvation Army and others he planned to use for personal projects.
Friday afternoon, Adair and two helpers were cutting the benches in half to get them out of the courtroom and down to his truck.
One benefit to the online auctions is it could attract buyers from farther afield, Wallace said in April.
One of the items in the first auction, an inflatable boat, was sold to a woman in Pennsylvania, said Berch Wilbert, a fixed asset manager for the city-parish.
“She hasn’t picked it up yet, though,” Wilbert said.
Others who purchased court furniture were slated to collect their purchases Saturday, Wallace said.
The third auction is scheduled to close later this month, Wallace said.
It includes cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, tractors, office equipment, and a plow-blade attachment for a forklift.