Auctions bear cash from utility’s trash

Auctions bear cash from utility’s trash
Posted on 08/02/2019
A dragon head, most recently featured on El Paso Water’s 2018 award-winning parade float, is up for auction.

Need a dragon head, most recently featured on El Paso Water’s 2018 award-winning parade float? Or how about a small fishing boat, last used to gather water samples at the Jonathan Rogers Water Treatment Plant?

The boat has sold, but luckily, the dragon head is still available to the public on govdeals.com, where EPWater’s Property Control department auctions off used items the utility no longer needs.

How it works

Property Control Officer Rudy Vargas and Materials Specialist Luis Nieto know one utility’s trash is another man’s treasure.

The process begins when Vargas and Nieto perform inventory audits across EPWater. Once they are done, Vargas and Nieto usually end up acquiring discarded items from the utility’s 45 departments.

“It’s stuff that has sat at our facilities for many years,” said Margaret Carrillo, Office Manager. “It’s stuff usually left in a junk pile off to the side.”

“We tell employees, “If you don’t use it, give it to us and we may find someone to use it or we can sell it in auction,” Vargas said.

Materials Specialist Luis Nieto and Property Control Officer Rudy Vargas pose with auction items awaiting pickup from buyers.Since Property Control began selling old utility property 3½ years ago, the public auctions have brought in over $100,000 in additional operational funds for the utility, Carrillo said. The auctions have reached buyers across the U.S., as well as in Mexico, Guatemala and Canada. Buyers are usually re-sellers, Vargas and Nieto said.

The hot-ticket items for sale are laptops, personal computers, radios and tools. The items no one wants? Desks and chairs.

“We sold a 1950s-era John Deere tractor to a farmer who came all the way from Cuauhtémoc, Mexico, to pick it up,” Nieto said. “He wanted it for parts, which are hard to find.”

Thriving business

A boat used for gathering water samples at the Jonathan Rogers Water Treatment Plant was recently auctioned off.The monthly auctions have become so successful Vargas and Nieto sometimes work on Saturdays to add auctions onto the site.

If an item doesn’t sell after three times, they will scrap it. But items usually sell.

Vargas and Nieto decide the opening bid and let the auction do its work.

“There are times I put an item up at $6, and it sells at $1,000,” Nieto said. “It didn’t sell in a previous auction, but you just never know.”

To access auctions, enter El Paso Water in the search field at govdeals.com.

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