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Escrow Accounts to be Phased Out

If your unit has funds held in an Escrow Account, they will be unavailable between May 9 and 23rd.  Over the next month, the Dan Beard Council will be phasing out the use of Escrow Accounts and consolidating the funds held for your unit into your Unit Account.  By consolidating these accounts, we believe this will simplify management of unit funds, provide better service and detail of your unit’s transactions, and increase the transparency of how the funds are used.

We want to help prepare you for this transition and provide you with information on what this might mean for your unit and how your funds can be used moving forward.

First, a little background on Escrow Accounts and why we will be moving to only holding Unit Accounts.  Escrow Accounts are custodial accounts held by the council in a unit’s name with funds that can only be used for BSA registration-related costs.  These include membership fees, participant insurance fees, Boys’ Life subscriptions, and charter fees.  Unlike Unit Accounts, funds in Escrow Accounts cannot be used in the Scout Shop or to pay for any other Scouting costs.  Escrow Accounts have provided a convenience for some units to allow the Council Registrar or District Executive to make up small differences in registration costs or, in cases of overpayment, deposit leftover funds for future use.  These micro-transactions typically ranged from a few cents to a couple of dollars and were intended to avoid having to follow up with someone in your unit about a small amount of money.  While this process has offered some level of convenience, it often creates even more confusion as balance and transaction information in not easily managed.  This could also be viewed as lacking transparency in how unit-held funds are used.

The same benefits of paying registration costs can be accomplished through the use of a Unit Account.  Nearly every unit regularly uses a Unit Account, which are much like a bank account held by the council for units to deposit, withdraw, or make charges to for any Scouting-related costs.  Unit Accounts are managed by a computer system and can provide historical detail of every transaction – when the transaction was made, by whom, and what for.  This makes it easy for your unit to reconcile the council’s record of transactions with your own unit’s records.  You can call the front desk at the Scout Achievement Center (513-577-7700, option 0) anytime during business hours to get your current balance or request a transaction history.

With this change there are a couple of points that we want to make sure you are prepared for.  First, this may require a little more coordination within your unit regarding who is using the Unit Account and for what purpose.  For example, if the Committee Chairman deposits funds into your Unit Account intended to be used for new Scout membership applications, and the next day your unit’s Advancement Chairman wants to use Unit Account funds to purchase advancements in the Scout Shop, it would be important for everyone to communicate to ensure there is enough of a balance for all of your plans.  We would encourage your unit’s treasurer to be in good contact with those using the account and also work closely with the council’s front desk staff for assistance with account information as needed.

Also, to ensure the proper usage of your account, the council will undergo a process in June of asking every Committee Chairman to designate who from the unit has authorization to access the Unit Account.  The Committee Chairman, Chartered Organization Representative, and Unit Leader (Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Crew Advisor, Post Advisor) will automatically have access, however, anyone else will need to be specifically named.  If we already have record of authorization for other leaders in your unit, we will just ask for verification of this information.  We will make this an annual process of sending a Unit Account balance statement with the names of authorized user in June of each year.  To inquire into who currently has access to your Unit Account, please contact the front desk staff at the Scout Achievement Center (513-577-7700, option 0).

Lastly, to continue the opportunity to make paying for small registration costs convenient, units will also have the ability to opt-in to allowing your District Executive to use Unit Account funds at their discretion for registration costs.  Units can choose this option when we ask for your Unit Account authorization verification in June.  For any transaction where your District Executive uses Unit Account funds to pay for registration costs, a notification will be sent to a contact person of the unit’s choosing.  Note that this is completely optional and if your unit wishes to provide direct authorization each time for any amount of registration fee, that will occur.

Please be aware that as we make this transition to consolidate all unit funds into Unit Accounts there will be a small window where funds are unavailable.  The balance in your Escrow Account will be unavailable between May 9 and May 23.  After May 23, that balance will be available in your Unit Account.  Please plan any registration payments accordingly.

Units can request a check be cut to your unit for the entire balance amount in your Escrow Account; in this case, no money would be moved into your Unit Account.  If your unit would like a check cut, the Committee Chairman should contact Council Registrar, Lisa Jones, at (513) 577-7682 prior to May 9.

Thank you for your assistance with this process and for all of the work you to do provide Scouting to your unit’s youth.  We believe this transition will ultimately provide you with better management of your unit’s funds and allow the council to provide you with better service.