Every penny counts

Every penny counts

Calling all 4x4 enthusiasts. For sale: 1967 Kaiser Jeep M-715 five-quarter ton truck. Restorable. Ran when parked. Interested? Contact the village of Fisher at 217-897-1180.

If restoring old military trucks doesn't pique your interest, then maybe several old fire hydrants will, at the nice price of $100 apiece.

Or how about a tandem axel dump truck with a plow and salt spreader — in case central Illinois has another winter like this past one?

Cities, towns, even school districts around the area can sometimes harbor great finds as they replace old equipment with new, and with most facing tight budgets these days, almost anything is worth putting a price tag on to generate additional revenue.

Take the village of Fisher, which recently replaced a batch of very old fire hydrants. Ron Ragle, water supervisor for the village, said many residents told him they would be interested in purchasing the old hydrants as keepsakes. So, the village decided to put them up for sale at $100 each.

To Ragle's surprise, he has had no inquiries.

"That's the way it goes," he said. "Either they want it for nothing, or they want to get it for the cheapest deal. I really thought some of our local firemen on our volunteer department would have snatched those up by now."

After a recent spring cleaning of the village storage areas, Fisher has added to its sale list a 1986 Jacobsen HR-15 mower with deck; a boom sprayer with two 15-gallon tanks; a power pull-behind street broom; a Gandy hitch seed spreader ... and the crown jewel of the collection — the Kaiser Jeep that served as an emergency preparedness vehicle.

"When we parked it six years ago, it ran," Ragle said.

Meanwhile, in Mahomet, public works director Gary LaForge has overseen a mass replacement of village vehicles recently. That has left him with used heavy trucks and equipment he no longer needs.

In the past, LaForge said, the village has sold old vehicles at auction in Clinton. This time, however, it plans to sell directly through advertising on its website or in local publications.

"We do a pretty good job of taking care of (our equipment), because we know we are going to have to use it for a while," LaForge said.

His sales pitch: Because of the village's small size, its vehicles may be older but have low mileage. Like the International tandem-axle dump truck Mahomet is selling. It may be 14 years old but still has less than 80,000 miles.

In a budget-tightening effort, Mahomet has hung on to its older trucks for longer than usual the last two years, LaForge said. That's why the village now has several for sale all at once, including the tandem dump truck with a plow and salt spreader, a 1997 Dodge pickup, a 1998 Ford F250 and a 2004 Ford F450 dump truck.

"The problem is we've drug them along for so long that now we have to do them all at one time," he said.

If advertising doesn't do the trick, there's always Craigslist.

The village of Ogden spent $5,000 last year on a 1994 model bucket truck. It conked out soon after, so the village put it on the free online advertising site.

An out-of-state buyer drove up with his own mechanic, bought it for $2,000, fixed it and drove it all the way home, said village trustee Sonja Vickers.

"We recouped a little of our loss back," she said. "Not what we paid for it."

When Monticello has surplus vehicles or items, they tend to sell quicker — and fetch better prices — on eBay, said Floyd Allsop, superintendent of city services.

"It's a global market," Allsop said.

Monticello has sold vehicles, office supplies and outdoor equipment — mostly to buyers from outside the area — on eBay, Allsop said.

And if anyone's interested in some used space heaters, take note: the city plans to include some this summer when it puts a new batch of items on the online site.

The city of Danville got a much larger chunk of change than most when it used eBay to sell a 2003 Mercedes — not your typical municipal vehicle.

City police had seized the Benz in 2005 from Keon Clark, a Danville native and former NBA first-round pick who's currently incarcerated. Clark failed a sobriety test and was later charged with four felonies. The department was awarded the car through the state's Drug Asset Forfeiture Procedure Act, which allows local police agencies to keep cash and property confiscated in drug-related crimes.

A department gets 65 percent of proceeds if the confiscated property sells within a year. It gets to keep all the money if the property sells after a year.

So, Danville police used the Mercedes as a command vehicle for one year, then listed it on eBay, where someone in California spotted it and bought it for $45,100.

Normally, Danville sells old police cars and other city vehicles through local auction, said Public Works Director Doug Ahrens.

Like Mahomet, Ahrens said the city has been doing more direct sales, especially with items that have unique value, like the big trucks with high-pressure spray lines and a vacuum for cleaning out sewer lines.

"It helps recover some of the value of the equipment," he said. "Every bit helps."

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