Grader interest results in policy changes

CORNWALL – SDG Counties is changing how it disposes of surplus major equipment, offering it to the six lower-tier municipalities that comprise the counties first. The change was agreed to after a discussion at the April 15 council meeting.

Council was presented with an Action Request for the disposal of a surplus road grader. The grader was declared surplus in 2023 but then loaned to the Municipality of South Dundas. Now returned, interest from one of the six municipalities to buy the grader meant the Counties did not have a process for selling equipment directly.

“At least one municipality is interested in purchasing it, however staff cannot do this under the current policy,” said Trevor Baker, manager of operations for SDG’s Transportation department.

The current process for disposal entails getting a trade-in value quote from a dealer, listing the surplus equipment for auction, and taking whichever amount is higher. Normally, SDG does not sell off equipment without replacing it.

“I believe that any surplus equipment should be offered up to the six municipalities/townships first,” said Councillor Marc St. Pierre (South Dundas). “I think this is part of our collaboration; a good story of downloading rather than a bad story.”

He suggested that to avoid the outside cost of an auction, surplus equipment should be offered to the six municipalities. If only one local municipality is interested, then that equipment will be sold at fair market value; if more than one local municipality is interested, the counties should try to save the administration fees.

“Do you put a couple balls in a bucket and whomever pulls the right ball wins,” St. Pierre asked. “If you get a bidding war going, you’re escalating the hit to taxpayers.”

Warden Jamie Macdonald jokingly suggested that councillors could hash out any battles in the middle of the council chambers.

Councillor Jason Broad (South Dundas) advocated for changing the disposal process, but wanted to avoid any auction.

“The point of not having an auction is to not have the cost,” he said.

Councillor Steve Densham (North Stormont) supported an internal auction by staff if two or more municipalities were interested in surplus equipment, which Councillor Tony Fraser (North Dundas) supported.

“To me, the easy answer is an auction for transparency,” Fraser said. “An auction is an auction; the highest bidder wins.”

Councillors St. Pierre, Broad, and Lachlan McDonald (South Glengarry) supported a sealed bid or reverse tender process. After a quick show of hands, the majority of council (seven vs four) supported an internal auction for disposing of equipment. Staff will draft an internal process to bring to council at a later meeting.

Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader