By FRED KRONER
Jeanne Schacht is the Village Treasurer.
She is also a Village treasure.
The two roles, in essence, go hand-in-hand.
By being Mahomet’s financial watchdog, she has helped for three-plus decades to keep Mahomet on a strong footing.
Schacht is retiring and will spend her last day in the Village office on Friday.
In the 1980s, the Village office was smaller in size and scope.
“When I started (29 years ago), it was just her and I in the office on a day-to-day basis,” Village clerk Cheryl Sproul said.
The mayor at the time (Chuck Oliger) held a full-time job and there was no Village Administrator.
Schacht made an immediate impact.
“She has always been very careful to make sure the Village’s resources were used and invested wisely,” Sproul said. “Due to her diligence, the Village has benefited fiscally and has been able to provide services which has allowed the Village to be in a position to keep up with the growth rate over the years.”
Receptionist Sara Toomer has enjoyed two stints working with the Village. The first was prior to Schacht’s arrival.
“I worked at the office when she applied for her job and, oh boy, were we excited she had banking experience,” Toomer said.
Two years later, Toomer took a leave to raise her children. After a decade away, she was persuaded to return.
“Jeanne called and asked if I would like to take a temporary job doing water billing, and little did I know that 18 years later we would still be working together,” Toomer said.
Jason Heid, who is the water/wastewater superintendent for the Village, got an idea of what to expect from Schacht in a 1996 interaction.
“I had been there about a year and needed a new work truck,” Heid said. “ She said, ‘We’ll get you one. It will be (former mayor) Chuck Oliger’s old green one for $300.’
“That’s how I knew how frugal she was.”
Heid did get a truck — and it wasn’t Oliger’s — but the exchange made a lasting impact.
“You couldn’t find a better steward for the Village’s finances,” Heid said. “She instilled in all of us the importance of all of us making the most of what we have and not being wasteful.”
Village administrator Patrick Brown said Schacht is respected because of her integrity and attitude.
“In all my roles, the one thing that has never changed is the confidence and trust that we have in Jeanne,” Brown said. “With board members, I know they trust what she says and there is a high level of confidence because of her stewardship of our finances.
“She has credibility and often times throughout the years we always wanted to know what Jeanne thought before making decisions. She has a very good grasp on looking at things in the short term and long term. She has helped put the Village in great financial shape at a time in our state where many communities are not.”
Schacht’s traits include more than her commitment to the Village.
“She had a memory like a steel trap,” Heid said. “It might have been 20 years ago, but she could recall it instantly.”
Board member Bill Oliger has gotten to glimpse at more than the work side of Schacht.
“Dad hired her back when he was Mayor and instantly she became dad’s adopted daughter,” Bill Oliger said. “She would come to some of our family gatherings at our cabin. Jeanne is truly a very genuine person and a strong woman.
“What I love about her is the fact she treated the village budget as if it was a household budget and was always making sure the Board knew what could be spent and having the confidence to tell the Board that something couldn’t be done.
“I’ve always viewed our relationship more of brother/sister as opposed to board member/treasurer.”
Veteran Village employee Laura Peralta has worked with Schacht for 21 years. Peralta is the accounting assistant.
“The day I interviewed for my position (1996) with Jeanne at the Village Administrative offices, it was around Christmas time,” Peralta said. “As we entered the boardroom to conduct the interview, there was a cute little boy playing in the corner.
Turns out that little boy was Jeanne’s son, Reid, who was there with his Mom for a few hours. I went home after the interview and told my husband the story.
“We laughed that it was the little boy who lived in the boardroom. Since that time, it has been my pleasure to watch Reid grow into a man and now have a family of his own.”
Away from the office, Schacht makes herself available for family.
“She spends her free time for others, not for herself,” Heid said. “I saw how caring she was for others.”
Summing up the thoughts of her associates, Mahomet Village Board President Sean Widener said, “I would just like to say thank you for the many years of professional service she provided the Village. I will miss her positive attitude and our times swapping stories about our kids and dogs.”
Though Schacht is saying farewell, Brown hopes it won’t be forever.
“It will be hard to replace the institutional knowledge she brought to the Village, but fortunately we know she is always available if we just ask,” Brown said. “Jeanne always asks a lot of questions and makes sure you have thought through all scenarios. Even when we don’t agree, we both can be confident that the issue or question has been fully vetted and analyzed.
“The Village of Mahomet is very fortunate that Jeanne has been our treasurer for the past 31 years, and we will miss her.”
Schacht’s duties will be turned over to Robert Kouzmanoff, who was hired earlier this year.
Heid and Bill Oliger made reference to a plant that has been a fixture for decades in Schacht’s Main Street office.
“Dad gave it to her years ago and it just won’t die,” Bill Oliger said. “She tried to give it to me, … but I’m not taking it.”
It found a new home with Heid.
“She gave me her money tree,” Heid said. “It was the saddest looking thing.”
Heid found its condition a bit ironic.
“I thought if anyone could grow a money tree, it would be her,” Heid said.
One thing that has grown by leaps and bounds is the appreciation Schacht’s co-workers have for her.
“She is family and will be missed,” Sproul said.