A Mount Sterling native entrepreneur is offering to offload property repossessed from former village administrator Joe Johnson, at no cost to the village, but noted that items are worth less than previously thought.
Tom Corbin, owner of Discovery Homes in Grove City, is a mostly retired real estate broker and auctioneer who has been enlisted by the village to sell the repossessed items, which council has been eager to offload.
“I want to talk and have council decide,” said Mayor Lowell Anderson. “I want to get rid of this stuff that we’re holding onto for Joe Johnson in whatever way.”
Corbin gave council a list of the items as well as values of the items, which he told The Press took him at least a hundred hours to accurately compile.
The first page of the packet was a list of six firearms as well as two Glock pistol magazines.
“One of the things I did was go over to the holding area of the sheriff’s department to check them out,” he said. “I, being an auctioneer, always make sure everything’s legal and OK. Well, I come to find out one of the items is illegal, it’s too short and can’t be sold and another was stolen.”
The stolen weapon is a Remington Speedmaster, an auto-loading rifle chambered at .22 caliber with a New England 12 gauge shotgun that had its barrel illegally shortened.
With the illegal items excluded from the list, Corbin recommended taking the remaining weapons to a gun show where he could sell them for the village, netting them between $1,070 and $1,175.
“Quite honestly, these items aren’t really good pieces, so to speak,” said Corbin. “Not only speaking from an auctioneer’s standpoint, I’ve been a collector for 40 years and I’ve been up to the gun shows and I know these really, really well.”
Next came the vehicles, which had their own concerns.
The 2008 Dodge Charger and Ford Mustang are under salvage titles, meaning they were rebuilt after being totaled or it was assembled from spare parts independently. Corbin said that it lowered the value and made it more difficult to sell.
“Most people can’t go out and get a loan for vehicles that have salvage titles, banks will not loan on them,” he said. “You have to have cash. Most people don’t have cash.”
With the mileage and difficult title, they’re worth $1,900 to $2,100 for the Charger and $4,575 to $4,935 for the Mustang, half of what they would have been with a normal title.
The 2013 Chevrolet Cruz and 2000 Harley Davidson Road King will go for $4,200 to $5,200 and $4,500 to $6,000 respectively. He mentioned the Cruz’s price was “up in the air,” stating he saw one go for $1,900 once.
The 2005 Honda ATV lacks a title and the John Deere lawn mower was heavily devalued, so Corbin recommended the village keep them for maintenance use.
“[With the ATV] you’re roughly looking at half the value,” he said. “The reason it’s important for that vehicle is, if you wanted to go to Wayne National Forest or something like that, you can’t go there, because you can’t get an ATV off-road license unless it has a title. So you could only use it for farm use or at home recreational use, nothing else.”
For the rest of the vehicles, Corbin said he could take them to a dealer’s auction in Perry County where prospective buyers sell cars at “buy here pay here” style auto-dealers.
From this recommended sale, minus the Honda and John Deere, it could net the village between $15,175 and $18,225, based on his estimates.
The remaining items listed Corbin said the village should retain.
“What I see is, I think that the village is cutting itself short on the items that you have there [listed],” he said. “There’s very few items there, when I say few, like some old TVs, a couch, that type of thing, the village would have no use for it. But there’s a lot of items you have use for right now, especially with the new plant opening.”
He said many of the tools could easily be used by the village and would be more expensive to buy new. For example, he found that a new Craftsman brand lawn edger would cost $100 while selling it could possibly net $5 to $10.
From these recommended items, he found that buying them new would cost $7,773 and selling them would only gain $1,265 to $1,810.
“They’re used tools, they’re garage sale stuff,” he said.
“I know you all have been dealing with this a long time, and I’m not getting anything out of this, I have no dog in the hunt so to speak,” he added. “I’m just trying to say looking from the outside in is what makes sense, and what makes sense is to hold onto these items and get the benefit.”
Village Administrator John Martin said he found so far that the tools are all functioning, and suspects some may have been stolen from the village.
For the unneeded items such as TVs and an outdated XBOX 360 game console, the village could have a sort of “garage sale” of its own. None of these items are worth more than $5 to $100 and would earn the village no more than $400 if sold, according to Corbin.
Together, all of the items Corbin recommended to sell should net the village $16,509 to $19,800.
Council voted to go with Corbin’s recommendations on the firearms, cars and tools.
“John, you could use the tools anyway, best to have them back, that’s what I figure, too,” said Council member David Timmons.
President Pro-tem Mary Lou Stiverson-Ratliff concurred it was smarter to retain the items.
“I know a lot of people over the last year and I was right up there at the top too, in order to do for the taxpayers, in order to do for this and that, [the logic was] let’s just sell it all, get out from under it,” she said. “But as time goes on and you bring up the logistics of [that], any municipality or any business giving up usable materials and instead going out into the retail world and paying four or five times more again … it was not my original intention to keep any of this.”
Finance Chair Rebecca Burns voted against retaining the given list of tools, stating she noticed some overlap in what the village already owned, specifically a trailer and a generator.
“I have to ask, doesn’t the village already own this?” she said. “We’ve talked about recovering as much money as possible and I understand that there’s tools we could use but when I counted up some of the [listed items] that was over $1,200, and that was on the low end of the present value.”
The final preparations for the car sale should start around July 10 so they can be sold some time in the third week of July. In the meantime, Martin said he had potential buyers for the cars, the original owners, who possibly would be willing to pay more due to sentimental value.
Meanwhile, the sale of Johnson’s former Jackson County home is being stalled due to ongoing issues with the previous deed.
The deed for the 1,800-square-foot house on 3203 Camba Road, just outside of Jackson is still suffering from glitches with records in the county.
Anderson wanted to know how much longer the process would take.
Martin said his impression from discussions with Dylan Newsom, the buyer, it would be a few more weeks.
“We’re tired of waiting on this,” Anderson said.
Martin said that the buyer is at the mercy of the title attorney hired by the credit union giving Newsom the loan. He added that the buyer wasn’t trying to delay anything and wants the house closed as soon as possible.
“We’re kinda stuck in a sense,” he said. “Until the attorney feels he can certify the title and the deed properly.”
Maximilian Kwiatkowski can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617 or on Twitter @MSFKwiat.