February 13, 2003
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Council allocates VMP more funds

Village Council agreed last week to give additional funding to the Village Mediation Program to help the program pay for what people associated with VMP consider one of its most critical functions.

Facing a tight budget and a long list of capital needs, the Village will not fund a program coordinator for VMP. Members of the program’s Steering Committee, however, said that while volunteers could handle many of the coordinator’s responsibilities, the program needed additional funds to support the “intake” process, the point at which those needing mediation make first contact with the program.

During Council’s meeting Feb. 3, Len Kramer, chairman of the Steering Committee, said that the intake process must be handled in a consistent and professional manner and would not be as effective if it was managed by a rotating group of volunteers.

Kramer said that several volunteers agreed to help oversee the process through April and the Steering Committee could “squeeze” $900 out of the program’s budget to pay someone to cover the process for part of the year. But the program still needs more funding for part of the year, he said.

Kramer said that the Steering Committee would pursue grant money to fund the intake process next year.

Without taking a vote, Council agreed to the Steering Committee’s request, saying that it would provide the program with an additional $1,100 for this year. The move increases the mediation program’s funding to $6,000.

Council member George Pitstick said that the additional funding “is not a big price to pay” to keep the mediation program running through this year.

This year, the Village has eliminated the paid contract positions for both the VMP and channel 13, the local public access station. The cuts will save the Village $25,000 a year. The reduction in personnel costs is part of a series of cost-cutting actions the Village has taken as a result of decreasing revenue and the need to implement several capital improvement projects.

In addition to the VMP Steering Committee, the Village Cable Advisory Panel was invited to Council’s meeting last week to discuss the impact the budget cuts will have on channel 13. Robert Walker, the station manager of channel 13 and a member of the cable panel, said that this year the panel wants to purchase a second camera to improve the quality of meeting broadcasts and start covering the meetings of the Miami Township trustees and Village Planning Commission. In addition, panel members will write descriptions to help new volunteers run channel 13’s equipment.

The panel has said volunteers should run channel 13.

Walker, however, spent most of his floor time last week presenting a report on the station’s 2002 activities.

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In other Council business:

• Council approved 4–0 a resolution awarding a three-year lease on Village farmland to Flatter Hereford farm. Council member Joan Horn was absent.

Flatter Hereford made a high bid of $111, outbidding John S. Grimes by 99 cents. Flatter Hereford, which leased the Village’s 87 acres of farmland last year, will pay the Village $9,657 a year.

• Village Manager Rob Hillard presented the results of a traffic study on Dayton Street. Hillard and Police Chief Jim Miller said that a stop sign was not needed near Wright Street. In December, a Dayton Street resident told Council she was concerned about speeding on the street.

Miller said that the study shows there is not an “excessive number of speeding violations” on Dayton near Wright.

Council asked Hillard to consider placing signage or other signals to alert drivers that the area is a high pedestrian area.

—Robert Mihalek