Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Newport turns to Internet auction to clear warehouse

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

NEWPORT - The auctioneer and gavel have been retired in favor of the computer and keyboard as the city of Newport attempts to disperse bikes, computers and office furniture - in eBay style.

Instead of having a one-day auction that people must attend in order to participate, the city's surplus property will now be sold solely online. Bidders will have , two weeks to view and bid on items from the comfort of their homes. The first online auction begins Wednesday and ends Oct. 15.

The site - www.cityofnewportky.org/auction - was developed by Newport City Clerk Paula Williamson and her husband, Michael. It had 126 hits last Friday, the first day it was publicized.

"We wanted to find the cheapest way to do it and give people more of an option," said Paula Williamson. "If it gets a good turnout, we hope to do it on an ongoing basis."

The city got the idea from Hamilton County's online auction, which has made nearly $17,000 since it began in June.

"In a traditional auction we would lose $70,000 a year because we had to pay for storage," said Amy Hoh, purchasing director for Hamilton County. "Now we can put it online right away."

More than 100 odds and ends are up for bid in Newport's first auction. Among them: 81 bicycles for children and adults, scooters, computers, monitors, printers, jewelry and power tools.

Bidding starts at a mere 50 cents for each item and must be bid in 50-cent increments. The winner will be the highest bidder on each item, no matter how low that bid is.

"We're not doing it to generate a whole lot of money, but we want to generate some," said Williamson.

Pictures, descriptions and conditions of each item are available at the Web site. Any items not bid on will be auctioned again online during the last two weeks of October. After that, items that have not received bids will be disposed.

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