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THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: FOUND MONEY

 

Dorothy Philbin | CNBNews Contributor

 

GLOUCESTER CITY, NJ-(March 29, 2022)--It looks as though we're in for another municipal (city) tax increase.  Are we shocked?  I doubt it.  I found something, actually several somethings, that should shock every taxpayer, though.

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I'm finishing work on my cousin's estate and before closing it I thought I would check the state database for unclaimed property.  The good news is I found $68 I didn't know I had and $2,100 I didn't know my cousin had and then...I looked into Gloucester City.  Here is where we might be shocked and angry.  Why are our politicians talking about raising taxes when there are twenty-one unclaimed accounts for Gloucester City and/or various departments?  These accounts are old.  The asset, usually money, was abandoned by the owner of the account and after a few years, it is turned over to the state treasury.  The state tries to find the rightful owner and they really do try hard.  At least once a year all the names of people who have property were listed in local newspapers.  Today it is done on the internet which is available 24/7/365.
 
Let's look at some of the Gloucester City accounts which were abandoned.  Until they are claimed the dollar amount is not revealed.  It could be $1 or $1,000,000.  We just don't know.  
 
  • Gloucester City (512  Monmouth St.) has three accounts.
 
  • Housing and Building has one account
 
  • The Board of Education has one account
 
  • The Police Department has one account
 
  • Department of Public Works has one account
 
 
  • The tax collector has one account
 
  • Gloucester City Pony Tails has one account (most likely a civic organization)
 
  • Gloucester City Water Department has one account
 
  • Gloucester High School has two accounts
 
  • Cold Springs School has one account (a 20-week account?)
 
The Gloucester City Fire/EMS Department has six accounts.  What has me concerned about these accounts is that one used a Warminster, PA address, one used 20 Yale Ave as the official address, one used Pedricktown as the address, and two accounts had a Cherry Hill address.*
 
 
There were also several miscellaneous accounts.  There is one for Gloucester Towne using 101 Market Street as the address, which is the Senior Citizens Housing unit. That is not owned by the City of Gloucester City.   Three other accounts have Gloucester City as the name but I suspect it should be Gloucester County as we don't have a sheriff's office or a probation department (or do we?)
 
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*  One point I would like to make is that in cases such as the Fire/EMS accounts, there is no reason to use an address other than a property owned by Gloucester City as the official address.  An audit of city accounts should have found this long before it got to this point.  Why wasn't it?
 
A second point I would like to make is that I had no access to whether ATM cards were made available or in the possession of anyone.  Over the years we have seen money disappear out of the accounts of civic organizations by the use of ATM cards.  ATM cards should never be issued on an account containing other people's money.  I know ATMs are convenient but that's the point.  They are too available.  Accounts that contain other people's money should always have paper checks used with two signers.  One person should never have access to another's money.  Just a suggestion.
 
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