By Brian Maass and Mark Ackerman

DENVER (CBS4)– School districts and local governments are in the process of claiming thousands of dollars in cash that they are owed, but apparently didn’t know they were entitled to until informed by a CBS4 Investigation. In some cases the unclaimed cash has been sitting around for decades.

“I think it’s great. Anything that helps the school district we are excited about,” said Diana Wilson, Chief Communications Officer for Jefferson County Schools.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

CBS4 found that Jeffco schools had nearly $2,000 sitting in the state treasury. Some of the money had been there since 1994. The money comes from over payments, refunds from vendors, insurance or medical refunds but all money that was misdirected and ended up with the state, just waiting to be claimed.

“It could be scholarship for a kid, help an elementary school, do a project. A couple thousand dollars — that helps a school out,” said Wilson.

Not far away in Lakewood, CBS4 informed city treasurer Larry Dorr that the City of Lakewood had about $700 that was unclaimed.

“I was not aware of that- that’s exciting,” said Dorr. “I didn’t have any idea that it was there… every little bit counts to meeting our mission and serving the public.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Unclaimed Valuables Residing In State Vault

Dorr said he would be following up and filing the appropriate forms to claim Lakewood’s forgotten money.

CBS4 also found Denver Public Schools had at least $10,000 in unclaimed cash sitting with the state. Records suggested some of it had been sitting with the state since 1987.

Mark Ferrandino, Chief Financial Officer for Denver Public Schools, said administrators had some awareness of their unclaimed cash and were attempting to get their hands on it.

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass interviews Mark Ferrandino with Denver Public Schools (credit: CBS)

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass interviews Mark Ferrandino with Denver Public Schools (credit: CBS)

“I think it’s really good. We’ll go and do the process,” said Ferrandino.

A spokesperson for Douglas County Schools, Paula Hans, said, “It’s awesome. We welcome that kind of news,” when CBS4 informed the district it had $4,700 waiting in unclaimed funds.

The City of Aurora filed a claim to recoup more than $5,000 after CBS4 brought unclaimed funds to their attention. Even the Department of Homeland Security has close to $4,000 sitting in the state treasury.

Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton said, “The problem is some of these entities dong even know they have unclaimed property. The funds sit in no man’s land.

“Look we are in some uncertain economic times, every dollar counts.”

He said his office usually fields about 88,000 claims per year for unclaimed cash. The amount disbursed by the state has been rising from $25 million in 2013-2014 to $33 million in 2014-2015. Already this year $15 million in unclaimed cash has gone out to individuals, organizations and businesses.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Now it appears some school districts and municipalities will be taking a closer look at this source of cash.

”Unless the agency is proactive about actually contacting our department and trying to find how to recover those funds, the process never gets started,” said Stapleton.

RELATED: The Great Colorado Payback

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.

Mark Ackerman is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. Follow him on Twitter @ackermanmark

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