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News Release from Comptroller Susan Combs

For Immediate Release
August 24, 2010

Combs Returns Unclaimed Property in Amarillo,

Honors Local Governments for Financial Transparency

(Amarillo) — Texas Comptroller Susan Combs today said the city of Amarillo reclaimed $109 in unclaimed property in fiscal 2009, and has retrieved $402 so far in fiscal 2010. The Comptroller returned $7,651 in unclaimed property to Potter County in fiscal 2009. Amarillo Independent School District reclaimed $802 in fiscal 2009 and an additional $4,351 in fiscal 2010.

“Cities, counties and school districts face challenges in this tough economy,” Combs said. “Our office has expanded its efforts to help government entities reclaim property, and I applaud the local governments in this area for taking the initiative to get this money back and put it to work for the taxpayers.”

Combs urges all Amarillo area residents to check the Unclaimed Property List by visiting www.ClaimItTexas.org or calling (800) 654-FIND (3463) to see if they have money waiting to be claimed. The Comptroller returned more than $769,000 to Amarillo residents and businesses in fiscal 2009, but the state is holding $9.5 million for Amarillo owners. The Comptroller estimates 26 out of 100 people in Amarillo have unclaimed property. Examples of unclaimed property include dividend, payroll or cashier’s checks; stocks, bonds and mutual fund accounts; utility deposits and other refunds; insurance proceeds; mineral interest or royalty payments; dormant bank accounts; and abandoned safe deposit box contents.

Also, during a visit to Amarillo today, Combs recognized Armstrong, Randall, Donley and Hartley counties, along with the cities of Amarillo and Canyon for meeting high standards in fiscal transparency. Armstrong, Randall, Donley and Hartley counties received gold status in the Texas Comptroller Leadership Circle, a program that recognizes cities, counties, school districts and other local governments that have taken their first steps toward openness, shown progress or even exceeded transparency standards in providing online access to their expenses and revenue. The city of Amarillo received the silver award, and the city of Canyon achieved the bronze award.

“We appreciate the work of local officials who shine a light on spending and ensure greater accountability to the taxpayers,” Combs said. “We’re opening financial records for public examination so taxpayers can see exactly where their money is going, promoting greater accountability and raising expectations for customer service and government transparency at all levels.”

Local governments receiving an award have opened their books to the public and provide clear, consistent pictures of spending with detailed information on how tax dollars are allocated and spent. These top-ranking entities provide information online in an easily accessible, user-friendly format with features that allow taxpayers to easily drill down for more detailed information.

For tips and a step-by-step guide to achieve local government transparency, as well as a complete list of local governments in the Texas Comptroller Leadership Circle sorted by city, county and school district, visit www.TexasTransparency.org/local/. New entities are typically added on a weekly basis.

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