Texas counties have a new, convenient option for buying and selling county vehicles and equipment: the County Trading Post. Think of it as a virtual bulletin board, connecting counties wishing to buy or sell equipment and vehicles.
Counties are subject to competitive bidding requirements, but one exception to the requirements for local governments is the sale of surplus property from one county to another, see Texas Local Gov’t Code §263.152. The new service is a clearinghouse for county-to-county sales.
Making a deal
Here’s how it works. Official county sellers, after requesting a user account from TAC, can list for sale their county’s surplus items. Counties wishing to purchase items may browse the listings, then contact the seller directly to negotiate terms and finalize the purchase. There is no cost to either the buyer or seller to use the County Trading Post.
It’s so simple in concept, and yet the service fills a needed gap for counties, one that hadn’t been offered before, according to Gillespie County Commissioner Donald “Donnie” Schuch. “It could save counties millions if it was used statewide,” he said.
Schuch had been advocating for such a tool for counties for a while. He approached TAC Executive Director Susan Redford with the idea, and TAC launched the service in February.
Schuch says, “Larger counties may regularly trade-in their equipment every couple of years, equipment that would be perfectly good for smaller, maybe less affluent counties. Why not sell it to another county?”
Many counties contract with a third-party auction house to sell their surplus property, and fees may be passed on to either buyers or sellers, or both.
Saving time and money
Schuch posits that counties on either side of the deal stand to benefit from using County Trading Post – not just in avoiding fees. Selling counties could make more money on the sale than they would get by a dealer trade-in. Buyers could buy affordable equipment they need without the rigor and time involved with a competitive bidding process. County-to-county sales also mean that both parties could negotiate during the budget planning process, then finalize the sale at the start of the fiscal year.
But the benefits can’t be realized until counties give it a shot. Official county sellers need to request an account first before having the ability to post items for sale. Equipment and vehicles for sale will be available to browse on county.org/tradingpost once the selling county has submitted the posting and it is approved by TAC.
For additional information about county purchasing, see our legal publication Basics of the County Purchasing Act and Competitive Bidding. TAC provides the County Trading Post for the convenience of its members but does not guarantee the condition, quality, or specifications of any items posted hereon. Users of the site agree that TAC, its officers, employees, and assigns shall not be liable for any damages associated with the use of the site or damages associated with the use of equipment purchased through the site. Further, users are responsible for complying with all rules, regulations, and laws governing the sale, purchase, transfer, or procurement of property.