Bonner County moves to online auction


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SANDPOINT — Bonner County is launching an online presence for its government auctions starting in early fall.

Public Surplus will serve as a platform for the county to sell items that are in county possession.

Jessi Webster, county business operations manager, pitched the idea to commissioners at the end of Tuesday’s meeting.

“Anything worth more than $250 should be auctioned off,” she said. “Setting up a county auction is a huge amount of work.”

Working with the online auction platform will help reduce the amount of work the county does in public auctions.

Public Surplus manages everything involved with the auction in addition to creating the listing or delivering the item. Those who purchase auction items through the platform will be charged a 10.5% buyer’s fee.

“We’re getting next to nothing for county property,” Commissioner Dan McDonald said at the meeting. “When you look at the numbers these types of sites are getting, they’re obviously bigger.”

Much of the county’s surplus is vehicles — vehicles that sometimes wait up to three years before the next upcoming auction. Even though the auctions generate revenue, the main benefit to the county comes in the form of open storage space.

Previously, county auctions were held once every 2-3 years. This waiting time should be greatly reduced because the auctions will be displayed permanently on Public Surplus.

Webster discovered Public Surplus after being approached by another organization to run online auctions through their platform, but they weren’t profitable for the county.

“As a government agency, we are required to seek out cheaper options,” Webster said in an interview Wednesday.

The town of Sandpoint already uses the site, although nothing is currently listed.

Buyers can expect to see mostly office furniture and vehicles on county offerings.

Surpluses from the sheriff’s or treasurer’s offices are not considered county inventory, at this time they plan to continue their already established auction practices.

“I think it’s much more fiscally responsible, especially with taxpayers. We can capitalize on the surpluses as much as possible,” McDonald said at the end of the meeting.

Auction pages for the City of Sandpoint and Bonner County can be found on the Public Surplus website at publicsurplus.com