Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Ludlow auction nets $5,000

Sealed-bid process was scuttled for vehicles

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LUDLOW — An auction of surplus vehicles brought in more than 10 times the amount an earlier sale by sealed bid would have generated.

        The city organized Saturday's auction after the mayor came under fire for trying to sell two police cruisers for $12 each and a Jeep Cherokee for $201 to city hall workers, who included the witnesses to the bid opening.

        The 1987 Cherokee with 180,000 miles sold for $875 at the auction. The two police cruisers were among five surplus cruisers sold at the auction, the cheapest of which sold for $650.

        The auction, which included everything from lawnmowers to bicycles, brought in $5,000, said Mayor Ed Schroeder.

        “The citizens seem to be pretty satisfied that the mayor voided the earlier bids and decided to hold an auction,” said City Attorney Chris Mehling. “The auction was fair.”

        The auction concludes a months-long debate about the best way to get rid of the surplus vehicles after The Enquirer reportedthat city employees almost got the cars for much less than their estimated value.

        The city of Ludlow placed advertisements in local newspapers this summer requesting sealed bids on two police cruisers and the Cherokee.

        The highest bidder was Ludlow resident and former councilman Fred Brooks, but his bid was eliminated because it did not meet specifications outlined in the call for bids. Mr. Brooks bid $500 for all three vehicles, though the bid instructions called for a separate bid for each vehicle.

        With Mr. Brooks' bid eliminated, the highest bids were to two city hall workers. In August, Mayor Schroeder denied that city hall workers were awarded the vehicles, then he stopped the sale. He has maintained he stopped the sale to clear up a “misunderstanding” with Mr. Brooks and on advice from the city attorney.

        Since then, Ludlow City Council has drafted several policies concerning the sale of surplus items. The council drafted guidelines concerning city employees bidding on items and agreed that all sealed bids should be opened at the city attorney's office.

        Mr. Brooks said he attended Saturday's auctions, but didn't place a winning bid on any of the vehicles. “They were too expensive for me,” he said.


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