Pittsburgh wants to sell surplus vehicles and equipment online

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An online auction site for surplus city vehicles and equipment, which should allow the city to get more money for old cars and equipment and allow more items to be put up for sale, is expected to launch by Nov. 1 or earlier, city officials say.

City council introduced a resolution Friday authorizing Mayor Bill Peduto and city officials to sign an agreement with GovDeals Inc. to handle the city’s sales through its auction site. The site works like eBay and lists a dizzying array of government surplus, from playground equipment and office supplies to ammunition and school buses.

A final vote on the resolution is set for Sept. 9.

There would be no start-up cost for the service, but GovDeals would charge the city a fee when items are successfully sold. The 5 percent fee would be deducted from the sale price. Winning bidders also would be charged a 7.5 percent “buyer’s premium” for “the convenience of paying for assets online.”

The company would collect the city’s proceeds and forward them via electronic payment.

“This opens us up to a national pool of bidders, which will drive prices up,” said Councilman Dan Gilman, who has worked to get the city’s auctions online since he was a staffer for then-Councilman Peduto, who was elected mayor last year. “This is a no-brainer that should have been done a long time ago.”

The city now conducts auctions only once a year. The last one netted about $232,000, mostly for vehicles.

Jen Sample, the city’s capital budget manager, said that means surplus vehicles can sit in lots for months before they are sold, creating the potential for vandalism and missing parts. GovDeals was one of five companies to bid on the city’s request for proposals.

“They had the best deal for us as far as percentage of proceeds and amount of time to process payments,” she said.

The city would be able to sell more items than it previously has because of the wider reach of the Internet, including old computers, fire hydrants, parking meters and garbage cans.

“We are still taking stock of the available surplus that the city has,” said Tim McNulty, a spokesman for Mr. Peduto.

The city’s Equipment Leasing Authority has about 15 vehicles to auction, he added.

Robert Zullo: rzullo@post-gazette.com, 412-263-3909 or on Twitter @rczullo.

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