Cash-strapped Manatee schools sell off cars

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MANATEE COUNTY--There was a time when "going, going, gone" only described the money inside the Manatee County School District.

But now that phrase could mean another small step on the road to financial recovery.

"I'm hoping for one of these vans, one of these minivans or possibly one of these station wagons," said Richard Donnelly, out shopping for a new car.

Fifty-three district vehicles hit the auction block Saturday morning, in a sale that was expected to net up to $81,000 for the district.

Officials hope the savings come not just from money generated, but from having a smaller fleet to maintain.

"I looked at a couple, an S-10 pickup, it brought $4250," said Richard Smith, another shopper, "I thought it was kind of high but that's OK, it's good for the school board I guess."

These were among the first to be auctioned off and it's expected more will come later.

Most of the cars weren't being used regularly, but shoppers said it looks like the district was spending money to keep them in good shape.

"Everything's well maintained, all the oils been changed, all the vehicles here have good tires," said Vince Favazza, another shopper.

But for a school system that's nine million dollars in the hole, what kind of a difference will the sale really make?

Only time will tell, at a time when every last dollar really does add up.

Auction officials would not say how much money was raised. District officials were not able to be contacted regarding that information.