Could Police Chief Joe Pena Take Over Village Manager Position Permanently?
Channahon Village Board members are considering shuffling existing employees instead of hiring a replacement village manager.
Joe Pena has been wearing two hats for some time now, having assumed the role of interim village manager this summer while also entering his fourth year as Channahon police chief.
And while Village Board members seem to agree that Pena is doing a good job in both roles, they recognize that this dual employment can't go on forever. At a Dec. 3 special meeting, Village Board members expressed concerns about the community's perception of the situation and decided something needed to be done.
“The discussion centered on the concern of perception in the community,” Channahon Police Chief and Interim Village Manager Joe Pena said. “It was kind of difficult to decide if I was acting as a chief or as an administrator.”
However, the board decided hiring someone to be a full-time administrator would be too costly a solution.
“With funds and the economy the way they are, we are probably better staying the course as we are,” Pena said.
Board members asked Village Attorney Dave Silverman whether it would be possible to move Pena into a village manager position full time and promote Channahon Deputy Police Chief Jeff Wold into the chief position. Neither man would see an increase in pay and the $120,000 a year that had gone to an administrator position would remain in the village budget. Board members asked Silverman to draft a document setting up that arrangement to take effect for the time being, providing that Pena and Wold could resume their original positions when and if the village's financial situation improves.
Though Pena is currently performing the jobs of both police chief and village administrator, he only collects a salary of about $100,000 in connection with the police chief position.
As Channahon police chief since December 2007, Pena would need to remain an employee of the village for eight years to be vested in a pension, under current village pension rules. This would be the case no matter what his job is within the village. Pena is already collecting a pension from his 30-plus years on the force in East Dundee, but that comes from a separate entity than the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, which is used by Channahon.
It is not unheard of for village manager and police chief roles to be combined. In Indian Head Park, that has been the case for many years. Closer to Channahon and Minooka, the village of Oswego moved the police chief into a village adminstrator position in April. He remains in the dual roles.
A little further away, the city of Darien debated the possibility of making its existing village manager a police chief as well. It was not a well-received proposal and in the end, village board members chose to keep the positions separate.
Former Channahon Village Manager Jamie Bowden's last day was July 31.
If board members move forward to reassign job titles, Pena and Wold's salaries would continue to come from the general fund, as does all pay for village employees, but the line item would be different. Pena, who is currently under police services, would move to administration. Village board members are expected to discuss this issue at the meeting Dec. 19. The committee of the whole session begins at 6 p.m., with the board meeting following after.