When municipalities no longer have use for certain police cars, or lost-and-found items have been "lost" for too long, one option they have is to pass it along to you — at a price.

At any given time across New Jersey, local governments have items up for bid, from office equipment to dump trucks. And by law, as a resident, you have to be notified of the sale.

Government surplus auctions may occur in person, but a number of municipalities have gone digital and post their items on sites like Municibid and GovDeals.

"It's no different if you have an item in your home and it still has value to someone else, but you no longer have use for it," said Lori Buckelew, assistant executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. "It's a way for a municipality to sell an item no longer needed for use and recoup some of the value."

These auctions weren't always permitted, Buckelew noted. The approach started out as a pilot program decades ago.

According to Municibid, government surplus auctions "have taken the thrifting scene by storm."

As of Monday afternoon, the site had more than 50 New Jersey-based listings. A Ford F350 (photo below) used as a Department of Public Works vehicle, for example, is up for grabs from the borough of High Bridge, and bidding will begin in early September.


One lucky bidder in New Jersey, Municibid said, recently spent a few hundred dollars on seized property in a government auction and discovered a necklace worth $7,000 as part of his haul.

Ahead of any auction, municipalities are required to post the following information in a newspaper: date, time and place of the public sale; a description of the items to be sold; and the conditions of sale. Towns may also inform residents on their website or on social media.

"Towns want to get as much as they can from the items being sold, so they are going to publicize it," Buckelew said.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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