By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
Photographs of safety hazards shown in a PowerPoint presentation weren’t meant to embarrass anyone but rather to remind parish corporate board members to be vigilant about ensuring safe operations in their parishes. Images from unidentified parishes showed taped-over circuit breakers, exposed wires, items stored too close to mechanical equipment and icy walkways, among other safety hazards.
Trips and falls are a leading cause of losses for general liability. “One location had four trips and falls (reports) in a 30-day period,” noted Dan Molyneaux of Molyneaux Insurance. He and Joe Heintz of GuideOne Insurance made their “Loss Prevention” presentation during the annual Parish Corporate Board meetings held Sept. 13 and 15. Participants attended in person in Davenport or via electronic meeting at St. Joseph Parish, DeWitt; St. Mary Parish, Fairfield; St. Mary Parish, Oskaloosa; St. Mary Parish, Riverside; and Ss. Mary & Patrick Parish, West Burlington.
Concerns about safety issues shaped the content of this year’s Parish Corporate Board meetings, said Bishop Martin Amos. He expressed appreciation for the lay directors’ commitment to serving on their parish corporate boards and said they have been entrusted with a significant fiduciary responsibility. At least one lay director should serve on the parish’s finance council and both should serve on the parish council. They cannot delegate their fiduciary responsibilities, but they can delegate duties, the bishop said.
Job descriptions for parish employees are essential, the bishop continued. “Make sure that you have job descriptions for everyone and that people are aware of job responsibilities and descriptions.” While the Diocese of Davenport reviews parishes’ financial practices, the diocese does not have enough personnel to conduct an audit of each parish. “It is vital that parishes have qualified, professional bookkeepers,” the bishop said, to avoid costly mistakes and fines from the Internal Revenue Service. He also encouraged parishes to use the payroll processing company used by the diocese because of the increasingly complicated rules and requirements for payroll processing.
“Our mission as church isn’t about finances,” the bishop said. “But it is important for us to be able to do our ministries.”
Diocesan Chief Financial Officer Char Maaske spoke about expected changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act. The changes in how overtime is calculated and who receives it will likely impact all of the parishes, she said. She also thanked Molyneaux and Heintz for their efforts on behalf of the diocese. “They have prevented a lot of accidents from happening by their visits to diocesan entities,” she said.
Diocesan Vicar General Msgr. John Hyland advised the lay directors to review the description of their roles and to read the updated Parish Handbook, both of which are available on the Davenport Diocese website (www.davenportdiocese.org).