Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and during various phases of restrictions, it’s a good idea to document how your district will reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. This can be done through a COVID-19 Protection Plan, which is a document that outlines the procedures, safeguards, and practices to be followed to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19. If you are working with a contractor on projects, they should provide their own COVID-19 Protection Plan. Important factors to consider for your own district plan:
Effective March 22, 2021 if you plan to recommence on-site services to the public, a “comprehensive COVID-19 exposure, control, mitigation, and recovery plan” is required for each professional service provider. If you plan to allow the public back into your conservation district offices under Phase 3, you will want to have such a plan in place and adhere to it. This may require updating existing policies and plans. Contact your regional manager if you have questions or need assistance. View the Professional Services Guidance.
How to approach a board meeting is something that districts should be considering during this time. We recommend monitoring MRSC’s Open Public Meetings Act webpage to ensure you are in compliance with the current Governor’s Open Public Meetings Act and Public Records Act proclamation. You can also reach out to your regional manager, as the requirements and allowances can change on a frequent basis.
Securing two authorized signatures on district-issued checks is a highly encouraged best practice and internal control, but it’s not required by the State Conservation Commission or the State Auditor’s Office. Each district needs to ensure that their bank does not require two signatures on checks and that district policy is followed. If a district chooses to suspend the two-signature practice during the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s highly encouraged that districts return to this best practice once the crisis has passed and perform additional scrutiny on all district financial transactions in the meantime.
Yes, for the purposes of submitting CD employee timesheets to the SCC along with a voucher for any of our grants, there are alternate processes available to securing handwritten signatures. The alternative that will work best for your district depends on what tools you have available to you and your employees. Please work with your Regional Manager to determine the best alternate method for your district.
There are a range of options to consider to temporarily reduce or eliminate the need for physical signatures from supervisors. Each can reduce controls and increase the risk of fraud. CDs should carefully weigh the different risks associated with each option. Your Regional Manager can assist with this analysis.
If any of these measures are adopted, they can be revoked when the current emergency has passed or at any time the board chooses. It’s strongly recommended that the board increase oversight by carefully reviewing bank and credit card statements, along with all financial documents during this period to mitigate the risk of error and fraud. For assistance with questions or selecting alternatives to physical signatures, please contact your Regional Manager.