The Town of New Hartford now lists their "surplus" equipment on eBay to sell to the highest bidder.
When Concerned Citizens saw a brand new Troy-Bilt 5.5 HP 24" Snow Blower listed by the New Hartford Police Department with the notation "This is a new snow thrower. Only run to test machine." we were curious. Since we noticed that the item had already been paid for by October 30, 2007 according to the feedback left by the bidder, we emailed a FOIL request to the Town Clerk on November 2, 2007, asking for information regarding the transaction.
Today, we received a response from Chief Philo. Apparently, the item was a sale of unclaimed property "that was seized as part of a drug and stolen property investigation conducted by the Oneida County Drug Task Force, the Oneida County District Attorney's Office and the New Hartford Police." Curious how the town knew the snowblower had only been used to test the machine, although it does look brand new. The Subject of the memo from Chief Philo is sale of Unclaimed Property on E-Bay. Was it stolen from a local snowblower dealer who didn't report it missing?
As you can see by Chief Philo's memo, the check from Paypal was made out to Dan Herman, a New Hartford Police Officer. Chief Philo said the check is made out to Officer Herman because the town used Officer Herman's Paypal account to receive the proceeds of the sale. Hmm!! I got to tell you, nothing against Chief Philo or Officer Herman, but why would any municipality want an employee to use their own personal Paypal account to receive funds due the town for sale of surplus equipment, particularly if this is something that is going to be done on a regular basis? It might look better if the Town of New Hartford either opened up their own Paypal account or accepted only cashier checks or money orders.
Concerned Citizens also wonders why there is nothing in the town board minutes regarding the eBay sales that have taken place thus far. Seems that there should be some sort of record of the item, the amount received and who it was received from and perhaps a resolution declaring the item surplus before the sale occurs.
One other thing caught our attention. The town apparently is not charging sales tax for the sale of surplus items. Why not? According to the Terms on their eBay page, the Town of Huntington, N.Y., the City of Rome, Oneida County and Warren County, N.Y. all collect sales tax on their eBay sales. Isn't that the law? Shouldn't the Town of New Hartford be collecting and reporting the sales tax for these items...don't we get a little of that money back in the form of sales tax revenue?
Think of the lost sales tax revenue for the surplus vehicles that were sold and still running around town with Town of New Hartford license plates. Of course, if you don't register a vehicle and get license plates because someone "mistakenly" left the old license plates on the vehicle, it stands to reason that you won't have to pay the sales tax either if someone "mistakenly" forgets to charge the sales tax at the time of the sale.
Perhaps the Town of New Hartford needs to get with the program!