Tri-Cities governments & school systems owed $14K+ in lost taxpayer dollars

(Photo: WKRN)

TRI-CITIES, TN (WJHL)- News Channel 11 discovered there are thousands of lost taxpayer dollars at the Tennessee Treasury Department that belong to Tri-Cities governments and school districts.

Tennessee Treasury Department records show there is at least $14,000 of unclaimed property that belongs to county highway departments, court systems, public utility companies, and schools.

“In Tennessee, unclaimed property is money that’s been turned over by businesses and organizations who cannot find the rightful owner,” said Shelli King, director of communications for the state’s treasury department. King said the money could come from an old account, a refund check, or an over-payment check that is due to an individual or business.

Tennessee has nearly $800 million of unclaimed property. Using the state’s unclaimed property website, News Channel 11 found at least $14,000 belonging to city and county governments and school systems from Unicoi to Sullivan counties. Nearly half of the money is owed to school systems, including roughly $3,000 due to the Carter County School System.

“We’re just really excited about it,” said Peggy Campbell, assistant director of schools for Carter County. Campbell said she did not know there were nearly a dozen checks owed to individual schools and organizations within the system.

State records reveal some of the checks are for Valley Forge Elementary, which is owed more than $1,800 in old child care credits, while the Happy Valley High School yearbook club is due $65 from a vendor and Cloudland High School is owed nearly $200 from an old account.

Once Campbell found out about the unclaimed funds, she became proactive and started working with principals to claim the money. She said schools will benefit from the extra cash. “Sometimes we look at the big picture but we’ve got to look at the individual and so individually in some of our smaller amounts it’s going to help individual students but like I stated in some of our schools it’s going to benefit all of our students,” Campbell said.

The Greene County school system has around $1,500 of unclaimed property, including around $700 that belongs to the central office. Records show the majority of the money that is due to the central office is from a utility overpayment.

“Even if it was just $50 I think it’s our job to go try to claim that,” said Greene County Director of Schools David McLain. “That’s of course… tax payer money that’s gone to support schools. Certainly, if that was my own personal money I’d go after it. So I think that’s our job to go get what money that’s claimed to us to be spent on our kids and on our schools.”

McLain said the district’s budget director is in the process of claiming the money that belongs to the central office and said it will most likely be put into the school system’s general fund. He said it could be used to fund future capital projects.

McLain said his office checks annually for unclaimed property and now Carter County schools will too. “I want to go on record, thank you for finding this information for us,” Campbell told News Channel 11 after we informed her of Carter County schools’ unclaimed money. “I’m making a folder and I’m going to take a few hours every year and just list all of our schools to check.

The Tennessee Treasury Department said it also routinely reaches out to school districts and governments whenever they receive unclaimed property that belongs to them.



This is a screenshot of public unclaimed money in Tennessee. Click on the image to DOWNLOAD the full datasheet.



This is a screenshot of public unclaimed money in Virginia. Click on the image to DOWNLOAD the full datasheet.


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