Back on July 26, 2007, we noticed that the New Hartford Police Dept. had placed a brand new, still in the box, Moen two Handle Hi-Arc Faucet on eBay. Kind of caught our attention, particularly after the response we got from the town on the "only used for testing" Snowthrower that the town sold on eBay.
So on November 14, 2007, almost a month ago, we FOILed the information pertaining to the sale of the faucet:
1. A copy of the purchase order, i.e., what town department originally purchased the faucet or how did we obtain the faucet.The first question was answered by the Town Clerk on November 26, 2007:
2. If purchased, a copy of the invoice for the Moen faucet showing how much the town paid, where it was purchased and the date of the purchase.
3. A copy of the Bill of Sale for the ebay transaction, i.e., the name and address of the person who purchased the Moen faucet sold on ebay and the total amount paid by the eBay bid winner.
4. A copy of the Town receipt for the monies received for the ebay sale and what account was used for the monies received.
As I indicated might be the case, the sale of the MOEN faucet was from seized property by the Town Police Department; therefore, there is no Purchase Order and no Invoice.We are still waiting for answers on the rest of the questions...almost a month later. Obviously, there is a problem here because the bookkeeper has no record of the transaction and the sale closed on July 26, 2007.
I'm awaiting the documentation on the sale and a copy of the receipt for the purchase price.
O.K. the faucet, according to the eBay description, is available for $238 at Home Deport and actually sold for $50 on eBay...small amount of money in the scheme of things, but let's take a good look at the potential problems.
First of all, do we want our police force going into homes and seeing dollar signs on ALL possessions; albeit from suspects in a drug bust, but where does it end...do we need to seize a new Moen faucet as the result of a drug bust? Is it the function of the police department to be selling town property and seized items on eBay? Wouldn't it be more prudent for the eBay account to be under the name of the The Town of New Hartford with the Town of New Hartford's own Paypal account instead of in the name of the New Hartford PD? Remember, the snowthrower...it was apparently run through an officer's private Paypal account and he in turn reimbursed the town. We are not implying anything about our police dept., but that kind of set-up leaves the door wide open for abuse...it is just not good accounting procedure. Shouldn't there be some sort of record of the sale, who it was sold it, how much, etc. That is what the town board minutes are supposed to be...a record of what goes on in town government that can be researched in the future if a question arises regarding the sale of a vehicle...like the problem with the van. Since the town started using eBay, there has been no record of what has been sold let alone how much it was sold for and to whom.
The previous administration started a dialogue on the concept of selling on eBay, but no policy was voted on. Their recommendations included:
checking the book value of all vehicles
create a Town of New Hartford account so that any future property to be sold can be advertised through this account
set a minimum bid by calling a dealerThey also intended that someone from the accounting department be put in charge of this function. This sounds like a more prudent way to handle the sale of town property, particularly since under Town Law 64, the Town Board is charged with:
2-a. Acquisition and sale of personal property. May take, purchase, lease, sell and dispose of personal property as the purposes of the town may require, except as otherwise provided by law.There have been several items sold by newhartfordpd on eBay. The bookkeeper could only recall receiving information on a couple of them...perhaps, someone should gather the information on each sale and a full report should appear in the town board minutes sometime within the next couple of meetings. The taxpayers in New Hartford have a right to know what is sold and how much it is sold for. It is time to stop running this town like a private enterprise and start being accountable to the people who are paying the bills. HELL, private enterprises wouldn't last if they ran their business as lackadaisical as business is run in the Town of New Hartford.
3. Management, custody and control of town property. Shall have the management, custody and control of all town lands, buildings and property of the town and keep them in good repair and may cause the same to be insured against loss or damage by fire or other hazard.
We didn't even bother to ask about the antique clock or the HP toner cartridge that were sold on eBay...we are sure they were probably another drug seizure anyway.
We are still gathering information regarding some of the revenue questions and we will be starting that blog shortly.