Michael Horne
Plenty of Horne

Thousands Have Unclaimed Funds in County Treasury

County itself has more than $10,000 waiting to be claimed. How about you?

By - Feb 28th, 2023 01:03 pm
100 Dollar Bill. Photo by Dave Reid.

100 Dollar Bill. Photo by Dave Reid.

In February of odd-numbered years, the office of Milwaukee County Treasurer David Cullen releases a list of unclaimed funds held in its treasury, the depository for all such monies tendered by governments and agencies within its 1,189-square mile jurisdiction.

The eight-page report is available online. It lists thousands of potential claimants, the sums due, their source, and a means to claim the same in accordance with Wisconsin State Statute 59.66. The total is around $2 million — that’s not small change.

Report Also a Print Insert in Daily Paper

The unclaimed funds list also appeared as a print supplement in Milwaukee County editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on February 15th. Unfortunately, due to a copy-and-paste error, it bore the year 2021. That same day, all print editions of the paper included this correction:

Photo by Michael Horne.

Photo by Michael Horne.

According to Treasurer Cullen:

In response to your question about the Unclaimed Funds insert in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the clerical error was not noticed by staff at the Treasurer’s office or by me prior to the insert being printed. I noticed the error after the insert had been printed, but prior to it being included in the February 15th edition of the newspaper. After consulting with the Office of Corporation Counsel I determined that the best course of action was to print the correction.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to email me.

In fact, I did have a further question: “How much did this insert cost?”

…(T)he cost to print the inserts in the Journal Sentinel was $59,212.46. We also pay $651.24 for notices to appear in the Journal Sentinel the next two weeks informing the public that the list has been published.

That works out to well more than a dollar per copy, based on the publication’s declining subscriber base, most of which is in the WOW counties, where the insert did not appear.

County, City Are Owed Unclaimed Funds

Perhaps when the 2025 Unclaimed Funds list is to be compiled, the treasurer’s proofreading might extend beyond the heading of the report and include a check to see if the county owes itself some unclaimed funds.

Sure enough! The Clerk of Courts holds $8,935 belonging to the Milwaukee County Department of Housing. An unspecified Milwaukee County entity has $2,200 in unclaimed funds in the County’s “General” pile of cash. The City of Milwaukee also has six outstanding claims amounting to $15,486.14.

Various Offices Collect Funds

Not every community generates unclaimed funds. You will note such prosperous jurisdictions as Bayside, Fox Point and River Hills report none. Yet many larger suburbs like Cudahy, Wauwatosa, Shorewood and Whitefish Bay show respectable sums due to respectable citizens — even their corporate ones like Union Pacific railroad, which has $500 coming from the City of West Allis. The Milwaukee County Register of Deeds generates lots of cash — and a profit, to boot. Still, its list has a number of claims, some quite small. Even so they could make a difference in these inflationary times.

Take, for example, the $20.00 owed to Davis Kuelthau — no address given. Perhaps homeless. Maybe it’s been some time since he’s seen a solid twenty.

Or he could be Davis & Kuelthau, the law firm at 111 E. Kilbourn Ave. (Since October, the firm is known as Amundsen Davis, so we’ll look for that name come 2025.) The Educators Credit Union and the UW Credit Union also have legitimate claims for $30 apiece, although commercial banks do not appear, their investors will be happy to note. The Clerk of Courts runs a lot of money through his accounts and is well represented on the list. Some funds likely belong to recently deceased individuals, and they certainly are in that category when they are listed as “The Estate of…” One such estate has over $200,000 coming. One such estate’s lawyer will have some ‘splaining to do when the heirs catch wind of this.

The community’s correctional facilities hold funds in a number of accounts. The House of Correction (which will be the “Community Reintegration Center” in the 2025 report) has about 150 names on its list, with the average owed amounting to about $100, quite likely from wages earned in the House of Correction Print Shop or other enterprises. The Milwaukee County Sheriff likewise has an “Inmate Trust.” Those who are now Outmates might care to apply at the courthouse for their funds. The Sheriff also maintains a “Sundry Inmate Funds” account. One individual is owed $2,375, which represents riches in the jailhouse economy, and could keep you going for a couple of weeks on the outside, even in this overheated economy.

The State of Wisconsin also holds unclaimed funds, but that’s a different story.

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