VIP seeking $125,000 from Cape County Board for Developmentally Disabled

Friday, November 19, 2010

VIP Industries is seeking more than $125,000 the company says it is owed by the Cape County Board for Developmentally Disabled.

The formal demand was issued Nov. 4 through a letter signed by VIP attorney John E. Toma Jr. of St. Louis. The letter asks for $125,900.16 to cover utilities, insurance, maintenance, transportation and per diem allowances through Sept. 30. The letter also asks for the board to resume funding those items beginning last month.

The letter said VIP has no desire to engage in litigation but that if the demand was not fulfilled by Nov. 12, the attorney was instructed to file suit to recover the money.

VIP chief executive Hillary Schmittzehe said he has not received a response from the board. He said VIP was meeting with an attorney Thursday afternoon to discuss future steps.

Board president Dory Johnson said their attorney has been in contact with VIP about the matter.

She said several months ago the board passed guidelines for organizations that had a funding contract with them. She said VIP is not meeting the requirements.

The contract, she said, requires an organization requesting money from the board to provide a description of how funds will be used and information on its financial condition. If an organization appears to be financially comfortable, that does not mean the board will refuse funding, she said.

Johnson said Schmittzehe and VIP received notification that the requirements are not being met and the possibility that funds would be stopped.

"After many discussions with him, the board decided to take a pretty firm stand. We heard nothing from him after sending him the letter," she said.

Johnson said the board is not trying to close the sheltered workshops run by VIP.

"There is really only one person who can shut the workshop down; that is Hillary," she said. "With the money he has and free buildings to operate out of, if it shuts down it would be because of him."

She said the board wants to keep the workshop open and serving as many people as possible.

In the letter Toma sent to the board, VIP said it is entitled to the funding through a 1975 ballot initiative granting funding through a tax and through a series of contracts with the board.

VIP said it did not receive notification of cancellation of its contract or suspension of payments.

Earlier this year the relationship between the board and VIP became strained following a change in board leadership and examinations of how the tax money, nearly $900,000 a year, is spent.

cbartholomew@semissourian.com

243-8600

Pertinent Addresses:

5616 U.S. 61, Jackson, MO

1330 Southern Expressway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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