Mediation is Not a Luxury

by Janet M. Powers

An economy that seems perpetually pointed south is one in which people tend to put their dreams on hold. Couples planning to marry are postponing the big step. Families that need a bigger house are putting off the move and making do with an apartment or too many kids in one bedroom. Couples that were thinking of divorce are tolerating each other awhile longer due to the financial constraints of turning one household into two. Of course these are big steps that require adequate monetary resources, and they are not easily solved unless both parties are earning decent salaries.

But other types of problems don’t need to be put on hold. Those are the lesser annoyances that complicate our lives and continue to affect the quality of daily existence.

For instance, individuals having problems with family members or colleagues may be in a “grin and bear it” holding pattern. What about a friend who borrows tools without returning them, a pal who borrows money and never pays it back, a neighbor who ignores the property line, or a laborer who does inferior work? What of the Board member who doesn’t hold up his/her end of the organization?

In all these situations, stress continues to escalate, threatening to explode and result in destructive actions that can ruin relationships forever. Significantly, many of these problems can be solved immediately without paying a counselor or hiring a lawyer. No need to hang in there with gritted teeth! Mediation Services of Adams County offers inexpensive conflict coaching and conflict resolution services to help you over the hump of dealing with the deadbeats and difficult people in your life.

How much does mediation cost? Well, some people think we don’t charge enough, that we can’t be of any use to them because we don’t have sky-high rates. But the highly-trained volunteers at MSAC have just the opposite philosophy. We believe so thoroughly in the benefits of alternative conflict resolution that we want to make it affordable for everyone. So we have devised a sliding scale, based on income (we take your word for that) and applied to each party, per session.

For a 2-3 hour mediation, we charge $5.00 for those with annual incomes under $15,000; $10 for incomes between $15,000-$30,000; $15 for incomes between $30,000-$50,000; and $25 for an annual income over $50,000. Those are fees for individuals, but if you’re an organization, non-profits pay $20-$30 depending on size. Businesses of any size are charged $35 and local government entities $35. Let’s be honest. Most mediations last more than 2-3 hours and may run over to a second session or in rare instances, a third.

But unlike counseling, mediation does not go on and on. When the agreement is signed, the problem is considered solved for as long as the former disputants are willing to stick to their agreement. The price of relieving problems that distract you from what really matters, and resolving conflicts with the “people potholes” in your road, should be a lot higher. But harmony shouldn’t be expensive. It’s not a luxury but a right!

Janet M. Powers is the Presiding Officer of Mediation Servi ces. Contact MSAC at 717-334-7312 or mediationac@yahoo.com. Website: www.mediateadams.org