County commissioners, looking to get the best deal on the county’s surplus equipment, took action Monday to enter into a contract with an online auctioneer to assist with the sale of several sheriff’s department vehicles.

The court unanimously agreed to acquire the services of GovDeals.com, an online government surplus auction site, to help sell five patrol units from the Somervell County Sheriff’s Department.

Last week, commissioners considered using the traditional public auction method to sell the surplus vehicles after the sheriff’s department received several new Dodge Charger patrol units, but the court opted to table the item until this week’s special meeting after learning a higher price could be obtained online.

County Judge Walter Maynard informed the court on March 31 that Caldwell Country Chevrolet-Pontiac, located in Caldwell, Texas, had made a $5,000 offer for all five Ford Crown Victoria patrol cars. “I’ve seen it both ways. I’ve seen them go through auction and go for $50 and at other auctions go for $1,500.”

Maynard said the county did not have another public auction scheduled for at least 24 months and asked if the usual method was the best way to proceed. “I just know the market is saturated with Crown Victoria police cars going out for sale.”

County Auditor Darrell Morrison said last week that the Caldwell Country offer was a little less than the usual $1,500 each used patrol car brings.

Due to Chief Deputy Derrell McCravey not being present at the March 31 meeting, commissioners opted to table the item until their next meeting to consider other options, including an online auction.

On Monday, James Oakley, a representative of GovDeals.com, appeared before the court informing commissioners that several counties in Texas have acquired their services, including Erath and Rockwall counties.

“We’re a preferred vendor by the buy board,” said Oakley, a former Burnet County commissioner. “You can put items online at your leisure. It’s an eBay for government entities where anyone can bid on the items.”

Oakley said if the county chooses to use GovDeals.com, the online auction company would receive a 7.5 percent fee from the total price brought by the vehicles or other surplus equipment. “When you sign an agreement, we ask that you don’t offer the items anywhere else.”

The county would simply have to take a photo of the items to be sold and upload a description of the surplus equipment, said Oakley. “There’s no software to load and we can assist you in posting the items. It’s worked well at all the entities we’ve worked for.”

Oakley said the average time before a police car is sold on the Web site is 10-14 days. “Unique items, such as a rock crusher that Erath County posted, should be allowed more time, up to 30 days.”

Prior to posting the vehicles online for the public to bid on them, the county will be required to meet the public notice requirements set by state law. Somervell County will publish an auction notice in the local newspaper before moving forward with the online auction.