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On March 28, 2013 the S&P 500 hit an all time high. Wall Street certainly seems to have recovered. However Main Street has not. Unfortunately, the Federal Government and State Governments have not seemed to recover either. That means no help for cities. 

What does this have to do with Oxnard?

A:

Oxnard, like many other cities, cannot rely on outside help. We must create our own growth through locally led stimulus.

Bert, what do you propose?

A:

In tough fiscal times, local governmental leaders are expected to do two things:

  •  Act as responsible stewards of the public’s money
  •  Help find sources of additional revenue for the communities in which they govern

The second of these two expectations requires bold, out of the box, creative thinking. For Oxnard, as for all other communities in the state, there is a sizable source of revenue that is largely ignored; unclaimed properties.

What is Unclaimed Property?

A:

Unclaimed property is money, usually in the form of cash, but also in securities and physical items such as safety deposit boxes, which the state has taken or is in the process of taking custodianship over. This process is initiated when a financial institution, such as a bank, sees no activity in an account for a period of time long enough to consider the account inactive or abandoned.

The owner or heir of unclaimed property can file with the state to get back said property. However many people do not file as they may be unaware, or have forgotten that they have unclaimed property with the State. Additionally, for many, the State’s process to get their unclaimed property back can seem daunting. As such, the State of California Controller’s Office currently reports that it has over $6 billion in unclaimed properties statewide.

How does this relate to Oxnard?

A:

So how does this relate to Oxnard?.....In the Oxnard area [i.e. City of Oxnard and nearby El Rio and Channel Islands Beach unincorporated communities], there are over 40,000 claimants who combined have over $11 million in unclaimed property held in trust by the State Controller’s Office as of February 2013.

Over $4.6 million of this total amount is represented by local claimants, both individuals and businesses, who have $1000 or more with the State. For many folks however, funds go years without being claimed for a variety of different reasons:

  •  People don’t realize that they have unclaimed property with the State
  •  Uncertainty about what is needed to claim the property
  •  The State’s claiming process seems daunting to the uninitiated
  •  People lead busy lives, with competing demands for their time and attention

How do you plan to address this?

A:

I knows that hard-working, taxpaying citizens and struggling businesses in the Oxnard area want city government to be on their side. Furthermore I believe that all levels of government, including at the city level, should work hard at helping their communities prosper economically, including helping them retrieve any unclaimed property they may have with the State.

That’s why Bert is proposing an innovative plan for the city to help local citizens and businesses capture local unclaimed property funds that currently lie fallow in the State Controller’s Office. And once such funds are received, asking successful claimants to consider spending some of those funds on goods and services generated by local businesses.
Bert’s plan is both locally led and more importantly achievable in the short-term with tangible performance results that Oxnard citizens can readily measure. The Perello Stimulus Plan is as follows:

  • Urge the City of Oxnard to sponsor an official, citywide public event, including notaries and trained city staff to help local claimants access their unclaimed property funds from the State quickly and safely.
  •  Using the State Controller’s publicly available database, city staff, augmented by Oxnard City Corps workers, would contact citizens and businesses who have unclaimed funds starting at a lower threshold (ex. $1000 or more)
  • Invite local citizens and businesses to attend this City-sponsored event where a streamlined process will allow citizens to file for their unclaimed property with the help of city staff. City staff will explain the State’s claiming process, help them fill-them out the documents need, and notarize their signatures.

  • Direct city staff to contact the State Controller’s Office to arrange for the possible bulk processing of Oxnard’s unclaimed property submissions as a package. (Individual claims can take 90 days or more)
  • After the event is held, direct the city staff to organize and mail a packaged bulk priority shipment of Oxnard’s unclaimed property submissions generated from the event to the State Controller’s Office.
  • Ask Oxnard’s claimants who participate in this city-sponsored event to shop LOCALLY with the funds they get back, specifically recommending that successful claimants patronize businesses that are locally owned and operated in the Oxnard area to the greatest extent possible.

What effect will this plan have?

A:

Any significant influx of money will have a positive effect on the local economy:

  • Public perceptions and attitudes about the City of Oxnard will hopefully change for the better when local residents, businesses and taxpayers see first-hand that city government, properly led, is striving to help them access their unclaimed property from the State effectively and efficiently.
  •  Local businesses will prosper from increased sales of goods and services generated by unclaimed property funds, which should help them retain existing local employees, and perhaps they even may be able to hire new employees.
  • Local sales tax revenues should increase when the unclaimed revenues generated through this event are spent by the claimants on goods and services provided by local businesses.
  • Positive lessons learned about collaborative civic engagement between city staff and its citizens in Oxnard can then be shared with cities and communities throughout Ventura County, and the State as a whole.