WOODSTOCK – A hunch on the part of two staff members hired by new McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks turned out to be worth more than $130,000.
Executive Assistant Bridget Geenen and communications specialist Oliver Serafini, the hiring of whom has been under fire from some County Board members, discovered that the Illinois Treasurer’s Office is holding the amount as unclaimed property. And finding it was as complicated as entering “McHenry County” on the state’s unclaimed property search engine.
Franks, D-Marengo, who ran on a platform of reducing the property tax burden and cutting the county budget, said the find is money “we now don’t have to take from taxpayers.”
“Apparently, [the county] hadn’t checked the couch cushions in almost two decades, and when you’re the sixth-largest county in Illinois, a huge amount of change slips out,” Franks said.
Geenen and Serafini decided to check the unclaimed property website while preparing for the county’s upcoming spring business expos, said Franks, who hired them shortly after he took office in December. The two had worked for Franks in essentially the same capacity when they worked for him as a state representative.
After they found “thousands of dollars” owed to multiple county departments with a cursory search, Franks asked the state treasurer’s office to conduct a more comprehensive one, resulting in the $130,000 total. Some of the money has been unclaimed since 1997.
Franks said Geenen’s and Serafini’s initiative and discovery prove their worth. He has instructed county staff to work with the treasurer’s office to recoup the funds.
“We won’t deliver on the promise of lower taxes and a more accountable, transparent government without people on the team thinking outside the box for the benefit of taxpayers,” Franks said.
Visit icash.illinoistreasurer.gov to see if you are owed any money or property being held by the state.