TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo has received dozens of inquiries related to its fire-escrow account since the airing of a WTOL 11 investigation on Feb. 23.
Stephanie Beebe, who oversees the account for Toledo, said Thursday morning that the city has received about 100 calls and emails from residents inquiring about possible refunds.
If a home suffers a fire in Toledo and the homeowner collects insurance money to make repairs, a portion of that insurance money is deposited in the fire-escrow account.
For every $15,000 from insurance claims, $2,000 is redirected to the fund. It protects the city in case a resident doesn't repair or demolish the home.
The escrow can be used by the city to do the job. Once repairs have been made - or the property is leveled and cleared - the escrow money can be returned to residents once inspections are completed.
However, 11 Investigates discovered that in November, Toledo City Council transferred about $305,000 out of the fund, claiming that the rightful owners of the money could not be found. Dennis Kennedy, the commissioner of the Division of Urban Beautification, told WTOL 11 he has a team of 12 staffers trying to find people on the list.
But an 11 Investigates team has now found seven people on the list, several of whom claimed they knew nothing about the account and did not know they had money waiting for them.
One man was owed more than $14,000 and when 11 Investigates provided him with a contact, he was told that he would receive the money, though it was almost considered abandoned.
The seven people WTOL 11 found are owed more than $75,000. At least two of them have been promised refunds, while others have been contacted by the city. Several of them said they had to use their own money, in addition to insurance money, to finish repairs on their homes.
In an interview in February, Kennedy told WTOL 11 that his goal would be to have no money in the account because it is not the city's money, but rather residents' insurance money. After the transfer in November, the account holds more than $1.6 million.
If you believe you are owed money by the city, you can contact Engage Toledo at 419-936-2020, or you can contact WTOL 11’s lead investigator, Brian Dugger, at 419-248-4422.
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