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City looks to unload unusual items at Monday auction

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The inside of the city’s storage building looks a bit like the island of misfit toys.

Old fire hoses, police car light bars, laptop docking stations and other surplus items sit in the dim light, stacked in piles of 10 or more.

A garbage truck with some rust around the edges and a van with “SWAT” still visible on the side are parked just outside the single door into the building, which is a bit rusty itself.

They’re items that the city’s various departments no longer use or have replaced with newer, better versions.

But they still have some life left in them, and they will be up on the auction block Monday to go to the highest bidder, although items can go for as low as $1.

The city will then throw out any items it can’t sell, said Jeremy Chandler, who works for the city’s maintenance department.

Chandler said the city tries to have an auction every year. The maintenance department will contact other city departments and ask for items they aren’t using or have replaced recently, he said.

A list of those items then goes before the Board of Public Works and Safety to be approved as surplus, said Matt Caldwell, the city’s director of finance and operations.

Any items that the board approves as unneeded can then be sold at auction, he said.

There aren’t always enough items to have a live auction, Chandler said.

The last one was more than three years ago, and that was online because the city had just three or four vehicles approved for sale, said Mike Mensendiek, an auctioneer who helps the city sell its surplus items.

But this year, the city has five vehicles and various smaller items that it hopes to auction off, including:

A red 1996 Jeep Cherokee from the maintenance department with 107,291 miles that’s worth about $2,500 according to Kelley Blue Book pricing.

A white 2000 Jeep Cherokee from the engineering department with 114,716 miles that’s worth about $4,800 according to blue book pricing.

A red 1995 Ford F350 XLT truck with a snow blade attached that the maintenance department has used to plow the City Hall lot. The truck has 144,270 miles and is worth about $4,893 according to blue book pricing.

A garbage packer truck with 108,272 miles.

A former Dolly Madison truck used by the Columbus Police Department as a “SWAT” vehicle. The truck has 113,241 miles.

17 window partitions from the back seat of police cars, built for a Ford Crown Victoria.

Six digital cameras, various models.

A hydraulic hose-making system.

Wood chippers.

The items up for auction were finalized Tuesday, when the Columbus Board of Works approved the list.

Mensendiek said while the items are no longer of use to the city, they still can be of value to someone.

The used fire hoses would be good for a volunteer fire department. Farmers could use the hydraulic hose-making system. Small towns without a big budget to buy police equipment could use the old lights, light bars and back-seat window partitions.

Some items set for the auction block, particularly any old office equipment, likely will be harder to sell, Mensendiek said.

But nearly all of the items — especially the vehicles — are of high enough interest to people that there should be a good turnout, he said.

Any money the city makes through the auction goes back to the general fund, Caldwell said.

Chandler was at the last live auction, and hopes that a large crowd comes out Monday for the next one.

Proceeds in past years, he said, have been minimal, due to the condition of the items up for auction.

Mensendiek said while the items aren’t in the greatest condition, they also aren’t at the point where they would need to be thrown away.

The city’s profit in this year’s auction will hinge on how much people are willing to pay for the vehicles, Mensendiek said.

Buyers will have the opportunity to go home with some unique items, he said.

After all, Mensendiek said, you never know what you might find.

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