COLUMBUS — Local districts are eligible for a piece of more than $179,000 sitting in state unclaimed funds accounts.
The amounts range from $161 for the Miami School District to $8,213 for Lakota Local Schools in Butler County, according to a list of districts obtained from the Ohio Department of Commerce. The list includes $4,405.22 for Dayton Public Schools and $1,100 for Carroll High School.
The department’s Unclaimed Funds Division matched 111 schools and school districts with unclaimed funds in the state database. Schools were notified and sent a claim form, but only 26 returned completed paperwork.
The money to be claimed by school districts is a tiny portion of the $1.5 billion in state unclaimed funds. The division has paid nearly $55.5 million in 55,338 claims since July 2011 — more than $2.8 million over the same time last year.
“We are working with school superintendents and treasurers to put every unclaimed dollar back in our classrooms,” Commerce Department Director David Goodman said.
Individuals might have unclaimed funds from utility deposits or forgotten bank accounts. Goodman said school districts could have claim amounts stored in accounts they might not be unaware of, such as old booster club bank accounts or uncashed benefit checks.
Fairborn City Schools received $341.65 from two claims this year, one involving an employer-sponsored benefit payment. Fairborn officials searched the database and gathered paperwork for the claim, which was deposited into the district’s general operating fund.
“We try to make sure there isn’t anything fiscally outstanding,” District Treasurer Eric Beavers said. “We do try to look at those things and get every penny back.”
Individuals and agency officials can search Ohio unclaimed funds for free at the website, www.unclaimedfundstreasurehunt.ohio.gov. Accounts for 36 other states can be searched at www.missingmoney.com, a site endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.
Charging consumers to search for unclaimed funds is not illegal in Ohio, but Goodman said paying a finder is unnecessary.
He told reporters Tuesday the department issued a cease and desist order against online company Unclaimed Money, LLC. The company charges consumers upwards of $49.99 for a “membership” and has issued fraudulent claim forms with the department’s logo.
“We take pride in reuniting Ohioans with their money,” Goodman said. “And we do it for free and we do it efficiently and we do it effectively and we don’t like folks trying to charge Ohioans unnecessarily for this service.”
Contact this reporter at (614) 224-1608 or jborchardt@DaytonDailyNews.com.