As the Denver Post’s Anna Staver reports:
The Great Colorado Payback started in 1987 as a way to tell Coloradans about all the unclaimed property the state is legally required to keep, such as forgotten bank account balances, deposits to utility companies and even unused gift cards. Most people didn’t know the state held onto all this stuff until the treasurer’s office starting running television ads in the early 2000s and the number of annual claims tripled. The backlog of unprocessed claims grew to more than 12,000 — almost as many as the division receives in a calendar year.
“We agreed with all the recommendations in the report,” said Dave Young, the Democratic treasurer who took office in January. “We have been moving rapidly to change the course of the work in the office.”
For example, he said the unclaimed property team has essentially worked double time to knock down the backlog down to 2,200 claims — a success noted by the auditor’s office in its report.
Colorado Public Radio recaps how the audit of the Great Colorado Payback was initiated during the term of the predecessor to the current Democratic state treasurer, GOP Treasurer and failed 2018 gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton:
The results were released to the Legislative Audit Committee on Monday. Committee Chair Sen. Nancy Todd gave a nod to the work that the new administration has done over the past year but said there are still plenty of improvements to be made.
“There has been some remedy, but obviously still very concerned about the backlog,” said Todd, a Democrat from Arapahoe County. “And there was also a real genuine concern of, just the process, of how long and how cumbersome it is for people to get their property back.”
Bianca Gardelli has been the director of the division for just over a year and in that time she has taken the backlog of claims from more than 12,000 to less than 2,000 claims — a reduction of over 80 percent.
According to State Treasurer Dave Young, this was all done while processing the more than 16,000 new claims — within the required 90 days — that came in this year. [Pols emphasis]
During last year’s Republican gubernatorial primary, runner-up Vic Mitchell slammed Walker Stapleton over his handling of the Great Colorado Payback program, which provided the Treasurer with literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in free positive television advertising even while the program essentially ground to a halt due to mismanagement. Stapleton admitted the situation was “a big problem,” but didn’t offer any ideas for solving it other than welcoming an audit. Former Rep. Dave Young of the number-crunching Joint Budget Committee, on the other hand, has worked diligently since taking office in January to pull the Great Colorado Payback off the scandal sheets.
The moral of the story? What a difference a little competence at the top makes.