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Items seized by police to be sold online

The Common Council voted Wednesday to begin offering property found or confiscated by police through an online auction site.

But the aldermen were unwilling to completely do away with the city's annual bicycle auction.

"Leave the bikes off. Let that be a separate auction," urged Alderman Joseph C. Kibler, R-at Large.

Alderwoman Flora M. McKenzie, D-3rd Ward, said that would defeat the purpose of online auctioneering throughPropertyRoom.com.

McKenzie, who represents the Council on the Police Board, said Chief Neil B. Merritt wanted to avoid the overtime costs for officers brought in on a Saturday for the annual bike auction.

"It saves four hours of overtime when we have the auctions," McKenzie said. "The other side is, people who don't have computers won't be able to see the bikes."

"Then they're kind of like out of luck," Council President John Lombardi III said.

McKenzie said Merritt would be asked to keep some bikes instead of having them picked up by the online service, so the city could sell them locally.

PropertyRoom.com offers worldwide bidding. It picks up found or confiscated property monthly at no charge, ships the goods to the winners and sends the city a check. The company, based in Mission Viejo, Calif., keeps a cut for itself, which Merritt said was substantial.

A call to PropertyRoom's California headquarters failed to find anyone who knew what the commission is, but a newspaper article posted on the company's Web site said it keeps half the winning bid for items sold for less than $1,000 and 25 percent of the price of items sold for more.

Also, the Council directed Chief Building Inspector James P. McCann to arrange for asbestos surveys of three fire-damaged, city-owned houses: 169 Genesee St., 154 Gooding St. and 721 Market St. "We'll do the asbestos survey and have Highways and Parks knock them down," Mayor Michael W. Tucker said.

The Council also received Tucker's reappointment of Richard Conley to a four-year term on the Police Board, and former County Legislator Glenn S. Aronow to a new four-year term on the Fire Board. He replaces Elroy R. Powley, whose term expired Dec. 31.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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