Friday, February 20, 2015

Knox County hopes 'unclaimed funds account' brings financial windfall

Chris Caldwell
It’s a little-discussed fund, but it can often bring in big bucks for the Knox County.

The Knox County Commission on Monday is expected to sign off on a request to let the administration receive some unclaimed funds that have been placed in the State Treasurer’s Office for more than a year.

Officials won’t know how much is there until July, but last year the county got almost $150,000, and the year before that it received $287,100.

“It varies from year to year and you never really know what you’ll get,” county Finance Director Chris Caldwell said.

To get the money, the board must ask for it through a resolution.

“That allows us to do two things,” said Caldwell. “It requests the money back from the previous year’s report and also lets the state know that we’re going to file for the current unclaimed property as well.”

The money the county seeks this year is technically from 2013.

Here’s how it works:

Every check the county cuts to someone that isn’t cashed after one year is forwarded to the state where it will sit for an additional year. The county can then file a claim for it – after it has again tried to notify the person or vendor and give them a chance to reclaim the money.

Most of the money that goes unclaimed is tied to jury duty, mileage or other reimbursement checks, or medical deductibles, Caldwell said.

Caldwell said he isn’t sure why the checks go uncashed, but suspects it’s because people have moved and didn’t provide the county or post office with a forwarding address.

The money will be placed into the county’s general fund, which covers much of the county’s day-to-day activities.

To be on the safe side, the county typically underestimates the amount it will get, so the revenue is considered a windfall if it is more than $25,000, Caldwell said.

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