THOMASBORO — The Thomasboro Village Board voted 4-1 at the Jan. 6 regular meeting to offer the full-time position of police chief to Eric Shumate.

Under the contract that the board approved, Shumate, a retired Champaign County Sheriff’s deputy, will be paid an annual salary of $45,000. He will also receive a monthly health insurance stipend of $700, a 6 percent 401k match, a $100,000 term life insurance policy, and $50 for a cell phone. After a six-month probationary period, his annual salary would be increased by $2,500.

Trustee Dustin Rhodes voted against the hiring based on budget concerns.

“We cannot operate in the black by hiring a full-time position,” he said in response to resident Diana Pohlod. “We should have dug in a little more and found another way we could do it. It’s about money and putting off other projects in town that people want done.”

Rhodes also balked at offering the life insurance benefit to only one employee.

Trustee Tony Grilo paused before voting to say he didn’t like the way that “the whole process” had been conducted. Interviews were done in closed session during a special meeting Jan. 2.

“It’s down to the way too much was done behind closed doors and out of public view. Is this the path we want to go?” he asked.

Residency was also a concern for Grilo. He would prefer having a police chief move to town. But Trustee Robert Pinske noted Shumate lives near St. Joseph and can be in town in 15 minutes.

“Of the candidates, Shumate stood out across the board. He’s a reasonable candidate. He’s here; he has plenty of experience to do this job,” Pinske said, defending Shumate’s selection in spite of his lack of police chief experience.

Longtime resident Jeanne Johnson supported the board’s decision.

“I lived in Thomasboro before we had any police,” Johnson said. “It was not any fun. I don’t want to go back to that. In today’s society we definitely need police protection.

Johnson wanted to know why traffic ticket revenue could not be used to sustain the police department.

“I used to have a very similar thought, that the police department could be self-sustained,” Mayor Tyler Evans said, “but you can’t view policing as a revenue-producing item.”

There was discussion of requiring goals to be achieved within the probationary period, but no decision was made.

Mike Martinez, a Thomasboro part-time patrol officer, has been serving as interim police chief since Robert Rea’s resignation as full-time chief in 2017. Rea held the job for about five months. Prior to his hiring, the position had been part time.

Increase for public works superintendent

Also at the meeting, the board approved 5-0 a $5,000 increase to Public Works Superintendent Chad Polsky’s annual salary as had been promised once he earned his water operator’s license. Grilo and Evans congratulated Polsky for meeting the requirement so quickly.

“It was a tough test to pass, and Chad did it on the first go-around,” Evans said.

Trustee candidates sought

Evans is seeking a resident to fill Trustee Trent Sage’s unexpired term. Sage resigned Dec. 31 because he is relocating. Interested residents are asked to contact Office Manager Deanne Wattjes at Sage’s term expires April 30, 2021.