The Price is Right on CraigsList: Where’s the Policy Commissioner Asks?

The town decided it was going to accept sealed bids on a surplus inventory Hammond Organ, a few weeks ago.  To alert the public to the purchasing opportunity, a classified advertisement was placed in the Cecil Whig at a cost of $55.  When officials opened the bids Wednesday evening, they had one offer for $50.  TTo save a little money on these minor items the town should consider using Craigslist, the free Internet classified advertising service.  An untold number of households finds it to be an effective tool for reaching a much wider audience and the price is right.  We noticed it was placed on the web site.

Classified advertising is a significant revenue stream that newspapers largely lost a few years ago.  According to Slate Magazine the free Internet listings “demolished newspaper classified advertising revenues nationwide. . . . Stripped of their classified revenue streams-which had especially high profit margins—newspapers were forced to start stripping their payrolls.  Newspapers failed to see the power of publish-anything-anytime-anywhere on the Internet so they fell behind.  And once Craigslist found traction, it was off to the races.”

While officials discussed the bid, Commissioner Storke asked where the town stood on its procurement policies to help guide inventory acquisition and deacessioning practices.  That was something he’d brought up in the summer and fall of 2008 after the town got entangled in a purchasing order mess related to information technology and couldn’t easily figure out where the authorization had come from.  The administration responded that a draft policy would be distributed to the commissioners shortly.


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