Spring cleaning season is upon us, and when most of us try to de-clutter our homes, we either donate excess goods or conduct a yard sale.

But what do our governments do when they have extra, expiring or unwanted items? For most, including Houston County, auctions serve as a way to generate a little more revenue once items are no longer needed or nearing the end of their life cycles.

The county disposes of many of its smaller items, like computers or office furniture, via the GovDeals website. Smaller vehicles appear from time to time, though the county gets larger returns for most of its heavy equipment at in-person auction events, said chief county engineer Barkley Kirkland.

The website allows governmental entities to dispose of surplus or seized items via auction.

Many of the Houston County Commission’s meetings include an agenda item to dispose of some type of material. After all, the county employs about 400 people and conducts several types of services.

In the 2017 fiscal year, Houston County generated $133,540 from GovDeals auctions – most of which came from the Road and Bridge Department. So far in the 2019 fiscal year, the county has received $31,106 – $16,000 of that from emergency medical services and another $10,362 from the sheriff’s department.

Revenue from the auctions initially appears in the county’s general fund. If departments used money designated by law to purchase the original items – like pistol permit funds for the sheriff – then the revenue is returned to those sources, said Peter Covert, the county’s chief administrative officer.

Mental health law: Speaking of the sheriff, a bill that could expand how many law enforcement officers are allowed to transport potentially mentally ill patients for treatment has gained traction in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Paul Lee submitted the Houston County-specific legislation, House Bill 435, on April 16. House officials have already read it twice and have scheduled it for a third reading.

Currently only community health officers – sheriff’s deputies who have received specialized training – can transport those who may be suffering from a mental episode to medical facilities for evaluation. The legislation would give the Houston County sheriff power to designate other law enforcement agencies in the county to also handle potential mental health issues.

The bill would protect officers acting in good faith and medical institutions that accept or dismiss patients after a 72-hour evaluation period from civil or criminal actions. The bill also gives officers the power to use reasonable force to carry out the transport of those they deem need medical evaluation.

Meeting schedule: Since April has five Mondays and Tuesdays, we have an extended break between Houston County and Dothan City commission meetings. In the interim, Dothan’s Board of Zoning Adjustment will meet Wednesday at 9 a.m. in the Dothan Civic Center, where it will consider a potential zoning error at 153 Third Avenue.

According to a January 1977 map, the lot should be zoned for residential use. A residence is in place at the location, but current city maps reflect it has an industrial designation.

Research from city staffers does not indicate a rezone happened at any point since 1977.

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Follow Jeremy Wise on Twitter @DEgovbeat

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