Town Manager Accepts Job Offer In Illinois

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Payson Town Manager Rich Underkofler is leaving to take a similar post with the city of Mattoon, Ill.

Underkofler, who has been town manager of Payson since Aug., 1995, says his salary will be the same in Mattoon, but there are other benefits.

"I'll be about two-and-a-half hours from about half my kids and grandkids," he said. "I've been focusing on Illinois in my job search because I had previous work experience there that will qualify me for a retirement (plan)."

Underkofler previously served as an intern in Rock Island, and his first town manager's job was in Wood River. Mattoon, a city of 18,300, is located in central Illinois 50 miles south of Champaign about half way between St. Louis, Mo., and Indianapolis, Ind.

It was no secret that Underkofler has been looking for employment elsewhere.

"It has always been my intent to resign at the end of the mayor's term next year so my personality would not be an issue in the next election," Underkofler said. "A town manager is like an itinerant migrant worker. The average tenure for a town manager is four to five years. I've been here almost six-and-a-half, so it has been a great run."

Payson Mayor Ray Schum was out of town and unavailable for comment, but Vice Mayor Dick Wolfe wished Underkofler well.

"From what he tells me, this is a town about the same size as Payson, so he should be able to accomplish a lot," Wolfe said. "He stayed quite a while here, and he got a lot done."

Among his achievements in his six years as town manager, Underkofler cited the new police facility, the new fire station, the Payson Event Center, adding 69 acres to the parks system, and $10.5 million in street and airport capital improvements. His salary is $75,672.

Wolfe noted that Underkofler was not always the easiest person to get along with.

"He was an aggressive town manager, the kind who gets things done," he said. "It wasn't always the way I wanted it, but that's all right. We can disagree and still work together."

Mattoon, which Underkofler hopes will be his last stop before he retires, previously had a commissioner form of government.

"They have a five-member city council that is fairly homogeneous," he said. "There's not a lot of dissension."

Another thing Mattoon has is water lots of it.

"They have two man-made lakes that were constructed back in the 30s. They are even selling water to other communities."

Underkofler had been working under a letter of agreement to serve as Payson town manager for three years, but it expired at the end of the fiscal year July 1.

He plans to give the town 30 days notice, leaving here around Jan. 5 or 6. Mattoon wants him on the job by Jan. 15.

Wolfe said the town will probably form a search committee to find a replacement.

"There are a couple ways to go a committee or a professional search company," he said. "I'm thinking about that right now, and I need to talk to the mayor."

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