City: More info about PTC ‘waste’
The Jan. 9, 2013, issue of The Citizen contained a letter to the editor from Mr. Josh Bloom, who was concerned about what he perceived to be government waste exemplified by a construction roll-off dumpster full of what he described as “office furniture, presumably from the recreation building, ... (with) absolutely nothing wrong with any of it.”
Mr. Bloom suggested several options for getting rid of these items that were preferable to disposal, including redistribution to other city departments, sale of the items, or donation of the items to charities for sale or use.
The city’s Purchasing Regulation allows for the first two options, but not the final one. While the city may donate items to other governmental agencies, neither state law nor city ordinances and policies allow donations to non-profit agencies or third parties without some type of compensation.
As Mr. Bloom noted, the city had a dumpster in place at the Recreation Administration Building on McIntosh Trail due to the renovation of the facility. The bid specifications for the project, which officially commenced on Monday, Jan. 7, included the “proper removal and disposal of all debris and/or waste” in the building. However, the contractor did not place those items in the dumpster.
Prior to the beginning of the contractor’s work this week, several members of city staff spent the weekend at the facility. One employee was performing on-site shredding of documents that contained any personal information. Others were removing the remaining useful items to offsite storage locations.
Simultaneously, several remaining pieces of furniture damaged in the June 2012 arson fire at Kedron Fieldhouse (by smoke, water, or accelerant, and replaced by the city’s property insurance policy) were brought to McIntosh Trail and placed in the dumpster.
Some of the items that were left in the building remained after a public sale the city held in March of 2012.
The city periodically holds public sales for surplus items, which includes the use of www.govdeals.com whenever appropriate. The Purchasing Agent oversees this process. The steps she and other members of city staff take leading up to a sale, whether online or a live event, are:
Notify all departments of the impending sale and ask that any additional surplus items be sent to the holding area for inclusion;
Ask all departments to inspect the surplus items to see if they can be used in another area (and reallocated to that department);
Organize and catalog the remaining items for sale;
Advertise the sale event; and
Hold the sale event.
All of these steps were followed for the March surplus sale.
The city’s regulations allow the Purchasing Agent to determine the most advantageous disposition of excess, surplus, or obsolete materials. The policy further states that such items may be “refurbished or reconditioned, transferred, traded in on new equipment, sold by auction or sealed bid, or simply thrown out, if their value is so minimal that the cost of disposal exceeds any revenue that may be generated by other means.”
That last portion of the policy is what is most applicable in this case. For the March sale, the city spent approximately $3,000 in staff labor for the organization and cataloging the items, and in staffing the event itself. The merchandise that sold only brought in $1,200. The unwanted remains, along with the fire/smoke/accelerant-damaged furniture from Kedron, are what finally went into the dumpster.
Ultimately, city staff took all the steps available to dispose of the public’s property in a fiscally responsible manner. At some point, throwing items away becomes the last legal option in serving the public’s best interests.
If you have questions or concerns about something you see in your local government, you are always welcome to contact City staff for more information. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if I cannot answer your question, I can put you in touch with the department or staff member who can.
Public Information Officer/City Clerk
City of Peachtree City
Peachtree City, Ga.