Bookkeepers, business managers attend
By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
Bookkeepers, business managers, school administrators, parish secretaries, pastors, etc. are welcome to attend these meetings.
The first meeting was held on April 25 at Stoney Creek Inn in Sioux City. Personnel from the Chancery Office gave presentations throughout the day to about 60 attendees.
“When we started out, it was primarily to educate the bookkeepers about the health insurance programs and the benefit programs because we hadn’t done a good job of sharing that information,” said Margaret Fuentes, diocesan director of human resources. “Over time, it has really evolved and encompassed so much more than just the insurance.”
She added that the last couple years, the emphasis has been more heavily on parish accounting and other information.
Variety of information
Heather Marreel was also on hand to talk about the diocesan website.
“It really has evolved into a multi-dimensional meeting to share information,” said Fuentes.
The diocesan financial and internal control norms were put into place in January of 2011.
“We went over how they have done so far. We graded each norm,” said Mahaney.
Fuentes commented that this showed the progress that has been made and “kept the emphasis on what they should be doing but in a fun way.”
A lot of the information for the bookkeepers and business managers has been put on the diocesan website such as parish and school accounting manuals, forms, procedure, etc.
“That has been really well-received. Some of the feedback after the meeting was it was nice to know it is out there without shuffling so much paper,” said Fuentes.
Mahaney said that when the information is at the bookkeeper’s fingertips it is helpful because “we have a lot of bookkeepers that don’t work an 8-to-5 job. A lot of them work on the weekends. When we are not here, they can get that information.”
“I hope they feel an added confidence level in their expertise when it comes to health insurance procedures or rules,” said Fuentes. “I also hope they gain the idea that they are not the only one out there. Maybe they can call someone in a neighboring parish for help or to brainstorm.”
It is a good networking opportunity for them, added Mahaney.
“For them to know we are here, we are a big support system for them,” she said.
“Everything has been put online, so we aren’t going to have all the paperwork anymore,” she said. “It will all be accessible.”
Reuter said it is important to have meetings such as this so she can keep the parishioners at St. Joseph’s informed when they have questions. She also wants to keep the finance council updated about where their money is going.
The business manager from St. Joseph Parish in Milford, Susan Reiser, said the meeting is full of good information and updates.
“We see a lot of people that we haven’t seen for a whole year, other bookkeepers in the diocese,” she said. “We learn whatever new policies and programs that they want us to put in place.”
Reiser is excited all the forms will now be available on the diocesan website.
“We have to stay updated in order to stay up with what they require us bookkeepers and business managers to do,” she said. They need to keep up with the new technology and the items they want them to learn. “We have to know what the new health insurance costs are for the year. To get our budgets done, we have to know the cost.”
The second meeting was held on May 2 at the Santa Maria Winery in Carroll. Mahaney and Fuentes said the same information was provided at that meeting. There were about 40 people in attendance in Carroll.
Fuentes commented that there were door prizes for the attendees to thank them for all that they do.
“I hope they feel appreciated,” said Fuentes. “They are kind of the unsung heroes out there. I don’t think many of the parishes would function as efficiently if it wasn’t for these people.”
Mahaney said that they want to give “recognition to the bookkeepers through this to know that we appreciate what they do.”
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