Valpo trying to return utility deposits to former residents
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent November 17, 2012 5:20PM
Updated: December 19, 2012 1:22PM
VALPARAISO — It looks like a $11,995 windfall for Valparaiso City Utilities if more people don’t come forward to claim water deposits from accounts that have been closed.
The Utilities Board of Directors approved writing the deposits off on Tuesday, allowing the utility department to take them in as income.
City employees did their best to find those who are owed money using phone books, Google and social media, said utility department controller Richard Freeman.
That cut the list down from 340 accounts that created a $20,226 surplus to about 245 deposits.
“We certainly want to these back to these folks,” Freeman said.
Lots of those owed are contractors from Porter County’s boom growth time, and some contractors went out of business, he said.
Most of the deposits are $50, but some are slightly more than $7 and others up to $260.
Those who think they might be owed money should contact the utility department.
Freeman said that the city doesn’t plan to put the names on the city’s website just yet. There are privacy concerns about putting names and addresses on the Internet.
Before the law changed in 1997, unclaimed deposits used to be forwarded to the state, which would redistribute them.
According to an email Freeman sent to Utility Board Members, the city used to track deposits by customer name, and new deposits weren’t needed for people moving within the city.
Some of the deposits have no specific account assigned to them.
The utility department is working on a new deposit policy, which would apply the deposit towards the last bill, so the city could avoid having to issue deposit checks.