ONLINE AUCTION Struthers considers using credit

A 1-ton dump truck sold for more than expected through the online auction.
STRUTHERS -- The city is considering accepting credit cards for deposits on surplus items sold on its online auction site.
Mayor Dan Mamula said that if it proves feasible, the city might also allow charge cards to be used to pay income taxes and court fees.
After the high bidder for one of the items sold this summer during Struthers' first online auction failed to show with the cash, city officials realized they needed a way to guarantee bidders would follow through, the mayor said.
Requiring winning bidders to provide a nonrefundable 10 percent down payment with their credit cards could solve the problem, he said. If winning bidders failed to show with the rest of the cash within the three-day time limit, the city would resell the item, either on the auction site or through more traditional avenues, retaining the deposit.
Winning bidders who don't follow through are banned from future auctions, Mamula added.
Slow start
How successful the auction site will be remains to be seen.
Of the four items placed on the site in July, one brought a higher-than-expected price, a 1-ton 1994 dump truck. Initial bid for the truck was $2,200; it sold for $3,400. A stripped-down police car garnered a higher-than-expected bid of $1,500, Mamula continued, but the winning bidder failed to show with the money and the car was sold through other means for $500.
Two pieces of computer equipment -- specialty printers -- received no bids.
"We need to publicize the site," Mamula explained, "but we're not going to do away with the other ways we dispose of surplus equipment. I want to do whatever will get us the most."
Money raised by the sale of surplus equipment is returned to the city's general fund and reappropriated to the funds to which it belongs -- the street department, waste treatment, police department, etc. -- Mamula said.
The next online auction will open in about 30 days with surplus items from the police department, said Danny Thomas, who coordinates the project.
Items put up for bid could include anything from used police cars and office furniture to unclaimed recovered property such a bicycles and lawn mowers, the mayor said.
The auction operates using software from LightGov, a Youngstown-based application service provider for governments.
Reverse auctions
LightGov also supplies the software for Struthers to operate reverse auctions for products and services the city needs.
Reverse auctions allow suppliers to submit the lowest prices for which they will supply the goods or services described and the lowest bidder wins the business.
Earlier this year, Mamula said, the city saved $300 on office supplies using the reverse auction program and locked in prices through next summer that are lower than what the city paid in 2003.
Next spring, he said, the city plans to use the reverse auction to secure road repair supplies for the city's crack-sealing and cold-patch programs.
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