Local government offices have money waiting to be claimed

New Orleans, La. - You may have heard of the state's program to return unclaimed property money, but you may not know government offices could have money waiting for them too.

Sometimes the officials in those offices may not know it either.

Thousands of dollars collecting dust, without earning interest -- waiting to be claimed by government officials at a time when many say they're strapped for cash.

"They may not know," said State Treasurer John Kennedy.

We found checks dating back to 1987 that total one hundred dollars or more. When you combine all of the checks available for a particular agency, that number can really add up.

"We just returned $370,000 to the city of New Orleans in April. We returned about $83,000 to the DA's office. We've returned money to the school board," said Kennedy.

We looked at the checks tied to five local offices, which is only a fraction of how many are owed money. Altogether, these offices have 291 checks ready to be cashed:

  • Orleans Civil District Court - 120
  • New Orleans City Hall-93
  • New Orleans Police Department -46
  • Jefferson Parish Courts -21
  • Jefferson Parish Offices-11

120 of them are for the Orleans Parish Civil District Court. At least $7,900 is owed from things like Vendor Checks and Group Policy Benefit claim payments.

But that number could be much higher.

The way the State Department of Treasury's website works, a range of money is shown if the check is worth up to $100. If it's more than $100 it is open ended.

There's at least $5,400 to be claimed over at New Orleans City Hall, too.

Some of the names the money is for may surprise you:

  • Ray Nagin's press office is owed more than $50
  • Former councilman Jim Singleton is owed more than $100

According to Kennedy, this is money that has recently been uncovered.

"As fast as we return it, we get it in even faster," said Kennedy. "By the time I get back to the office tonight we can have 40, 50, 60-thousand dollars that has been sent in to us."

New money everyday that can be swept up and put to work as soon as the local government offices request it.

Kennedy says some government offices do regular or monthly sweeps of the State Treasury website because new money is uncovered all the time.