July 9, 2008

Kaine Uses Town Halls to Dole Out Money / Some in Audiences Received Funds for Unclaimed Property


During Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's town-hall meetings throughout the state, he took feedback and then he gave back.

Staff members from the state's Division of Unclaimed Property accompanied Kaine on 16 of his 20 trips to run attendees' names through a database of unclaimed money turned over to the state, including tax returns, stocks, utility deposits and uncashed paychecks.

By the last meeting, they had found 342 people or organizations owed a total of $65,000.

Those who attended cashed in. As it turned out, the state even owed Kaine money at one point.

Kaine learned on a visit to the treasury office early in his gubernatorial career, before he knew the office of unclaimed property existed, that he had money coming to him.

"I ended up walking away with a $700 check. And it was right before Christmas, so it was perfect," he told the town-hall crowd in Fredericksburg.

The money trail continued along his tour. The Loudoun County school system learned when Kaine held a town-hall meeting in the county that it was owed about $7,000, Kaine said. And the mayor of Wytheville cashed in on Kaine's stop there.

"I think it's a hoot," said Mayor Trent Crewe, whose wife also was in the system. "We made a little over $10 between the two of us."

The division has received more than $1 billion in unclaimed property since its inception in 1961, said Brooke Bredel, marketing specialist for the division, which was started chiefly to protect the rights of absentee owners and to reunite people with their property.

Businesses must report unclaimed property to the state after a certain period of dormancy. The state then holds the money in perpetuity, meaning it's never absorbed into the general fund or used to pay for, say, roads.

The office does allow the state's literary fund to borrow money at a low interest rate while the office waits to pay claims.

So how do you find out if you are the one in every seven people in Virginia who has money waiting?

Log on to www.vamoneysearch.org and click to search unclaimed property in Virginia. Type in your name and see what comes up. The division also publishes owners' names in newspapers annually.

Sometimes recipients will receive a check in the mail for only a few dollars or so. But you never know, Crewe said. "The moral of the story is, everybody needs to check."

Contact Olympia Meola at (804) 649-6812 or [email protected]


Originally published by Times-Dispatch Staff Writer.

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