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In budget crunch, state agencies leaving money unclaimed

8 years 2 months 2 weeks ago Monday, May 02 2016 May 2, 2016 May 02, 2016 11:29 PM May 02, 2016 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Money is tight in Louisiana, but there are millions of dollars just waiting to be cashed.

State agencies are not staying on top of unclaimed property owed to them. Some seem to have forgotten its there.

"We've returned $315 million, and we got a long way to go," State Treasurer John Kennedy says. "$700 million and it comes in every single day."

The state collects unclaimed property and keeps it safe until its rightful owner claims it, but there's money people and businesses never cash in and the pot keeps growing.

State agencies are on that list too. Most of them don't have more than a few hundred dollars in unclaimed property, but when you look at the big picture, all the money adds up, and there are millions of dollars waiting to get back into the state's economy.

The East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court's office is one of hundreds of state agencies that has money sitting at the state treasury. Up to $350 could go back into the Clerk of Court's funds. Some of the money was ready to be cashed back in 2011.

"It's a fairly involved process, so it's beyond just clicking and claiming," Fred Sliman with the clerk's office says. "They have to do some reconciliations; look and see where it applies."

The East Baton Rouge School System is also on the list. As of 2015, it has nearly $400 in unclaimed property.

"Most all of them are checks that we pay other people," EBR Superintendent Warren Drake explains. "We actually write about $5,000 checks a year."

Even if the school system does its part by mailing the checks out, they don't always make it to the bank.

"Somebody just throws it in a chest of drawers and doesn't cash it," Drakes says. "The second is payroll. We may pay a vendor for something, and they may not cash the check or it gets lost in the mail or something like that."

That money ends up back at the State Treasury, and until it finds the right hands, it will continue to collect dust.

"And if you have that money out there in unclaimed property, and you don't claim it, that means you have to make up the difference by taxing people," Kennedy says.

Visit the State Treasury's website to see if you have any unclaimed property.

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