NORTH PROVIDENCE, RI - While selling surplus government equipment and assets on eBay, North Providence mistakenly auctioned off a leased office trailer, according to The Providence Journal.

In its first eBay selling experience, town administration unwittingly used the online auction site June 30 to sell the trailer for $1,825. However, North Providence was actually leasing the 8-by-24-foot unit for about $234 monthly, the Journal reported. The unit was valued at $9,575 when the town leased it in January 2004.

After making about $15,700 in lease payments on the trailer over about 5½ years -- including a two-year span when the office wasn't even used -- municipal officials are now attempting to reach a post-sale settlement with the leasing company, reported the Journal.

The trailer was sold on eBay to a Connecticut heating and air-conditioning contractor, Thomas Manager of Glastonbury, said the Journal.

The wood-paneled trailer became the temporary headquarters of a town inspection service that checked vehicle identification numbers in a process aimed at preventing stolen used vehicles from being registered. In July 2007, Mayor Charles Lombardi relocated that inspection operation to a garage on Mineral Spring Ave. After that, the trailer was moved into the public works garage and went unused. But the town continued to make the monthly lease payments.

Despite the recent error, Lombardi emphasized that his new policy of selling surplus equipment and items on eBay is capturing much more money than annual auctions held in the past. Since June 30, the town has sold eight vehicles on eBay and six have sold at prices that range from $1,650 to $2,100, Lombardi told the Journal.