Conference moves to replace Bishop’s residence

August 27, 2015

Conference moves to replace Bishop’s residence
Within the next two months the Conference will replace the Bishop’s residence.  The collaborative efforts of the conference Board of Trustees, Committee on the Episcopacy, and Council on Finance and Administration will secure a different home for our episcopal family.
The current residence, in Norwalk, has experienced repeated water problems over the years – it was built and occupied in 2007 – and the difficulties have escalated in recent months.  Heavy rains, ground water saturation and inadequate water diversion in adjacent properties have led to water seeping into the building and through the foundation.  While one-time problems were experienced in 2008 and 2010, flooding in the residence has occurred three times in the last twelve months which has damaged both Conference-owned furnishings and personal property of Bishop and Mrs. Trimble.
On several occasions everything has had to be removed from the lower level of the house.  Once again everything has been removed from the finished basement, carpeting has been removed, drywall has been removed, and mold, an ongoing situation, has been discovered.  Experts have advised that there is no quick-fix solution and that an ultimate resolution, which will likely be very invasive, may take six to twelve months.
The water in the lower level of the episcopal residence has led to the Bishop’s family being displaced for many days five years ago and again this year for several days.
The Conference’s Board of Trustees began considering options for a replacement residence in February of this year.  The ongoing water and health and safety concerns have accelerated the process. 
In looking for a replacement residence, the joint group – consisting of representatives from the Trustees, Finance, Conference Lay Leader, Conference Treasurer and Assistant to the Bishop for Administration – is keeping in mind both the parsonage guidelines of the Iowa Conference and the standards adopted by the North Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church as well as other pertinent agencies.
It’s anticipated that the long-term financial impact will include debt reduction when the current residence is fixed and sold.  The Conference will not be making any commitment to outside liability.  “The purchase price for the current episcopal residence was $585,000 in 2007, and with the current challenges it has been costly to operate,” noted Terry Montgomery, Conference Treasurer/Director of Administrative Services.  “The Board of Trustees has placed a maximum price of $350,000 on the new residence; therefore this is a very positive financial move for the Conference.”
The Board of Trustees and Council on Finance and Administration have already approved the transition.  Possible already-built housing options are being considered. The Appointive Cabinet will confirm the final selection.  It’s hoped that all necessary arrangements can be completed and the next episcopal residence can be occupied within the next six weeks.