Oneida County's purchasing department is usually in the business of buying items for county use, but they've recently racked up some pretty impressive sales numbers as well. Our Sarah Blazonis tells us more about the landmark amount just reached and how the revenue-generating idea was partly inspired by a love of the New York Yankees.
UTICA, N.Y. -- One look around Mello Testa's office and you know what team he roots for. Not surprisingly given his role as Oneida County's purchasing director, he went after the best price while building up his collection.
"Pretty much everything in here was purchased on eBay. Obviously, you can see I'm a very big baseball fan," said Testa.
So when department heads were asked to come up with new ways to bring in revenue back in 2004, he once again turned to the online auction site.
"We never expected it to do what it has done. It is just far beyond our wildest dreams and imagination," he said.
The idea was simple: Surplus items not being used by the county are signed off on, then listed for sale on the site. The program brought in around $50 its first week. Last week's total was $18,000.
Testa says contracting with municipalities and other groups has also helped boost sales.
"They give it to us to sell for them and they get the money to use on items that they could really use. So it works out for everyone," said Testa.
The department used to keep track of sales made on a map outside the office, but stopped when numbers got too high to count. Total sales recently reached the $2 million mark.
"That's $2 million that in eight years we haven't had to add to the tax levy. It's $2 million in eight years that we haven't had to eliminate a program. It's $2 million that we haven't had to go and stop a particular service," said County Executive Anthony Picente Jr.
The county ships a lot of the smaller items, like phones and laptops, but when it comes to larger pieces of equipment, buyers have to come to Utica to pick it up. Officials say that leads to another additional source of revenue for the county.
"They're not coming here and going right home," said Testa. "They're spending the night here, they're eating in our restaurants, they're sleeping in our motels."
Sales are expected to reach $250,000 this year.
To take a look at some of the county items up for online, visit
ebay.com. New items are listed every Friday and auctions last ten days.