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November 18, 2013

Center Line council votes 4-1 to OK auction contract

City hopes to generate case through sales of old guns, equipment

By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer

CENTER LINE — Officials in Center Line have approved a contract with an online auctioneer as a way of generating cash for the general fund by selling old bikes, computers, guns and other items. 

The council voted 4-1 earlier this month to approve the contract with Repocast.com. The company, based in western Lower Michigan, charges a percentage of the sale price for the service, ranging from 15 percent for items that sell for less than $1,000 to 8 percent for items that sell for more. Repocast also tacks on a $2.50 fee for the transactions.

“A lot of cities have done this. This is not uncommon for cities to do,” Center Line City Manager John Michrina said Nov. 12. “The main idea was to get rid of our surplus property in a way that wouldn’t cost us more and would hopefully bring in some money for the city’s general bills.”

Michrina said the city previously sold off surplus property once a year on a Saturday at an auction held in the Public Safety Department’s apparatus bay. The city auction was staffed by employees paid overtime to sell the items.

“Even though we advertised it, the response wasn’t great. The bids were pretty low,” Michrina said. “This opens up the auction to a larger market. We’re not paying overtime to sell it. What we’re paying is a small portion of the (selling price of the) property.”

Repocast is one of several companies that make up the Miedema Asset Management Group. Miedema has been in business for 30 years, according to documentation provided by the company and included in a packet given to Center Line City Council members.

The SSL Corp., another Miedema company, holds a federal firearms license and would become the seller of record for any guns auctioned by the city. The license allows the company to sell seized and forfeited items.

A list of firearms slated for auction contained 40 handguns, and 26 rifles and shotguns.

Other items headed to auction by the city include a golf cart, a foosball table, two 2006 Chevy Tahoe SUVs, more than 40 bicycles, computer equipment and a collection of dishes used by the Parks and Recreation Department.

Council member Ron Lapham cast the lone vote against the auction contract but could not be reached for comment at press time.

Mayor David Hanselman said the contract was a first for the city: something he hoped would generate much-needed revenue for the general fund budget.

“We’ve never done this before. We’ve seen what other communities have done. We think it’s a beneficial thing for our community,” Hanselman said.

The city’s list of items, excluding firearms, will be auctioned beginning Nov. 29 at www.repocast.com. Firearms will be auctioned through SSL beginning Dec. 16 at www.auctions.sslfireaarms.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brian Louwers at brianlouwers@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1089.