I-Team: Gov’t agencies not collecting all missing money

Many local government are not cashing checks

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – You’ve likely heard of the state’s unclaimed property division. Massachusetts is holding onto more than $2 Billion in cash, stocks and mutual funds and some of it could be yours. The 22News I-Team discovered millions of dollars also belong to state, federal and local agencies.

Next time your local government proposes raising taxes or cutting jobs, make sure they’ve cashed all their own checks first.

(How much money are you overseeing in the unclaimed property division?) “We’re currently overseeing more than $2.4 Billion in cash, stocks and mutual funds,” said Mark Bracken, Massachusetts Assistant Treasurer and Unclaimed Property Division Director.

The 22News I-Team discovered that some of that money belongs to local government agencies, police departments, and schools. Money that could be used to fix roads, buy books or potentially lower your tax bills.

The Hampden County Sherriff’s Department has $854 in the state’s bank. That would cover the costs of 8 prisoners for one day.

The I-Team found UMass Amherst has more than $86,000 in unclaimed property, or roughly the cost of 3.5 years of tuition, room and board for one student.

Just about every western Massachusetts police department has some money waiting for them in the state’s bank, Hadley’s Police Department is owed $275 which could pay for a day of training for an officer.

The City of Springfield recently cashed in more than 150 old claims from the state. Now they have an additional $16,000 waiting to be collected. Steve Longeran is the city’s treasurer.

(Are there people in the city that should be responsible for not cashing these checks in the first place?) “I’m not in the position to say if someone cashed or didn’t cash it, I think that we need to pay attention to it, and we are now, to make sure that when we send out these forms for electronic funds transfers that it matches our bank account exactly,” said Lonergan.

The process took about a year and a half from when Springfield initiated those claims to when it received its money back.

“Every year we do run municipalities, through our database, over the last ten years that we’ve been doing this project we have returned over $3 million to municipalities,” said Bracken.

We also found that the state owes itself $3.2 million, but Bracken told the I-Team, fixing that problem would just create extra paperwork.

“It’s not like the state is owed money or the taxpayers are missing out on something.because the state has already collected that money and spent that money,” said Bracken.

When it is local money, it is your money and your local government needs to collect it to spend it.   From a few dollars to a few thousand dollars just about every town is owed some sort of money.

The federal government also has money sitting in Massachusetts’ unclaimed property division. The Department of Homeland Security is owed close to $26,000, the U.S. Treasury Department is owed more than $16,000 and the U.S. Department of Education is owed close to $40,000.

Other notable local unclaimed property over $100:

  • BayState Medical Center – $58,000
  • CELD – $982
  • Chicopee Water Dept. – $101
  • Chicopee Department of Health – $280
  • Holyoke DPW – $274
  • Leeds Department of Veterans Affairs – $310
  • Northampton DPH – $241
  • Pittsfield Police Dept. – $190
  • South Hadley DPW – $137
  • Springfield Parks Dept. – $700
  • Springfield School Dept. – $125
  • West Springfield Police Dept. – $227
  • Holyoke Gas and Electric – $3210

On 22News at 11:00 p.m., we’ll reveal how many western Massachusetts residents have more than $5000 waiting for them and why they may have trouble finding it.

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