Thursday, March 24, 2016

Week In Review

State Capitol Week in Review
            LITTLE ROCK – Thousands of Arkansans have found lost valuables, money and keepsakes through the state Auditor’s Office, which has the mission of trying to connect lost and unclaimed property with its rightful owners or their heirs.
            Sometimes the property is in the form of unpaid wages and commissions. Sometimes it is from old checking and savings accounts. It can be in the form of stocks and bonds, utility deposits, insurance payments, money orders or cashier’s checks.
For years the nickname for the Auditor’s unclaimed property program has been the Great Arkansas Treasure Hunt. That is an especially apt name when the unclaimed property has been recovered from old safe deposit boxes because the contents can be jewels, medals, old family photographs and love letters.
Thanks to Act 592, which the legislature approved last year, it’s now common practice for Arkansas residents to begin their search for unclaimed property via the Internet. They can access the Auditor’s web site by searching
After searching the Auditor’s data base, you can file a claim online if you discover any assets that you believe you own. Also, you can call 1-800-252-4648. If someone offers to help you find or file a claim but wants to charge a fee, call the Auditor’s office first. The Auditor’s staff will help you for free.
The Auditor reported an eight percent increase in online filings since the office boosted its publicity campaign through Facebook, radio and direct mail. Also, the state auditor and her staff frequently mention the unclaimed property program at speeches and public gatherings.
The value of property that is claimed will vary from week to week. In early March Arkansas residents claimed $1 million worth of property. That was considered a good week.
The total value of unclaimed property that has been turned over to the Auditor exceeded $220 million two years ago. The office was able to find rightful owners and return more than $15 million worth of the property.
Future Highway Projects
            The Highway Department will accept public comments until May 2 on its new Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), which outlines all of the proposed highway projects under consideration for the next five years. There are almost 700 projects listed. Their estimated cost is about $4.8 billion.
            The program can be accessed online from the Department’s web site. This is the address of the document: :
            This is the first time since 2012 that the Highway Department has distributed a statewide plan seeking public comments. Copies were sent to more than a thousand local governments, schools, transit agencies, planning districts and elected officials.
            The statewide plan estimates that the Highway Department will generate about $356 million in motor fuels taxes and registration fees on trucks. Some of that revenue will be used to match federal funds, which will amount to more than $800 million in Fiscal Year 2016. The total funding of projects in the Highway Department’s statewide plan will be almost $4.9 billion over the next five years.
            All comments about the STIP plan should be submitted in writing to: Kevin Thornton,
Assistant Chief Engineer – Planning, Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department
P.O. Box 2261, Little Rock, AR 72203

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