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Going Once, Going Twice, …Sold!

Have you ever wondered what happens to all the equipment used by the State of Missouri when it reaches the end of its useful life? By state law it is deemed surplus property and must be disposed of, usually by sale, and the proceeds are to be deposited back into the account from which it was paid. This state law allows the Department of Conservation to sell its surplus property to the public and deposit the proceeds back into the Department’s account to be used again.

Every year the Department collects the equipment (vehicles, boats, motors, computers, mowers, tractors) and brings it to one of two locations to hold a public auction. These auctions are normally in Brookfield and Salem. The MDC auctions are much like any auction you would find in your community on any given weekend. The public registers to get a bid number, the equipment is put together in lots and an auctioneer spends three to four hours barking out numbers most of us don’t understand.

The Department takes great pride in taking care of the equipment that is afforded us and it shows by the response that we get at these auctions. This past October in Salem there were approximately 1,000 registered bidders from nearly every county in Missouri and also from six surrounding states, including Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Iowa taking part in the most-of-the-day event. Some went home the proud owners of a newly acquired used piece of equipment. Most went home with only the memories of what might have been had they only raised their hand one more time. Everyone went home with the enjoyment of the heart-pounding, fast-paced excitement of being at the auction.

In most years MDC sells between $750,000 and $1,000,000 worth of used equipment. This money is then put back into the Department’s account to use in taking care of public lands and programs. Of the amount received from the sales, the biggest portion comes from vehicles. There are approximately 125 vehicles sold each year. Most will have between 105,000 and 120,000 miles on them. Even with that many miles, we are able to recoup 40 to 50 percent of what was paid for the vehicle four or five years before. In the end, the Department has efficiently used these vehicles, maintained them at a high standard and then passed them along to a new owner while many enjoyable miles were still left. One lucky bidder from Dent County purchased a truck eight years ago at an MDC auction. They put an additional 85,000 miles on the 100,000-mile truck before they decided it was time for a “new” truck. They managed to get the truck they wanted, and paid much less than expected.

How does MDC determine the best time to sell a vehicle? There are many studies by national organizations that have differing opinions. It is our belief that the taxpayers of Missouri are best served when we sell these vehicles before they reach 120,000 miles. At this time we are able to say the vehicle has been used efficiently and based on all expenses we have the lowest per mile usage cost. In other words, we are trying to get the best bang for your bucks. The same set of standards applies to any piece of equipment that is used and eventually sold by the Department.

Next August and October, be looking for the notices for the Missouri Department of Conservation surplus auctions. Even if you don’t go home with something, you are guaranteed to have an enjoyable day with many other auction enthusiasts.

Carter Campbell, Administrative Services Division Administrator

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