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State treasurer pays visit, touts past year's projects

By By CONNIE NOWLIN Special to The Standard
Alabama State Treasurer Kay Ivey was in Escambia County recently, talking about programs in the office of the treasurer and about some of the things that the office has accomplished in less than one year.
The office deals with banking for the state, investments and industrial development.
In those endeavors, the treasurer's office deals with unclaimed funds.
Those funds may be bank accounts that have been forgotten, or goods locked in safety deposit boxes, as well as income tax refund checks or other checks from the state or businesses, such as refund of insurance premiums or insurance benefit checks.
Those funds are maintained by the originating company or business for about five years, Ivey said, and then turned over to the office of the treasurer so that it may attempt to find the rightful owners.
If that attempt is not successful, the name of the owner is listed on the state treasurer's website at www.treasury.state.al.us. There are also directions on how to proceed in claiming the money.
Even if a resident does not have access to the internet, they may still search for unclaimed funds by calling the office toll-free at 1-888-844-8400.
There are other programs that are administered by her office of which Ivey is very proud.
There are a pair of programs which prepay college tuition at today's rates for tomorrow's students. Information about them is also available at the web site.
But what Ivey is perhaps most excited about is accountability.
A strange thing for a public servant to talk about, much less celebrate, but that is what Ivey is doing.
When she was elected, the office had 57 employees she inherited. She had each one recommend ways to make the department work better, more efficiently, and save money.
They came up with 17 steps that all together saved the state $700,000 annually. Those steps were identified and enacted before anyone in the capital said there was a crisis.
Some of those measures were common sense, such as sending out notices on post cards at 17 cents each instead of two letters at 37 cents each, plus the cost of envelopes and labor to stuff and seal each envelope and the cost of the envelope itself.
Another massive undertaking has been determining how much money comes through the office of the treasurer each year, from what sources, and then finding out where it goes.
Ivey and her employees have for the year 2002 found out $13 billion came in to the treasury from all sources: local, county, state, interest on investments and federal funds. The next step will be finding out where it all goes. Then the office will begin the same process for the year 2003.
There is a reason behind this to help the people overcome their apathy, Ivey said.