Shawn Crabel joins Chillicothe Township officials as assessor

Marianne Gillespie
Chillicothe Township Clerk Sharon Crabel, left, administers the oath of office March 31 to her son Shawn Crabel as he becomes the Chillicothe Township Assessor. His first day was April 1.

Shawn Crabel never thought he would be the Chillicothe Township assessor.

In fact, he said he thought he would deal with international business in a big city. He received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Florida State University and master’s degree in business administration from the University of Illinois.

That background, he said, makes him a “suitable” incoming assessor. He took his oath of office from his mother, Chillicothe Township Clerk Sharon Crabel, on March 31.

“I knew Sharon Minnes was wanting to retire and was looking for someone to take over for her,” Crabel said.

It’s not an easy position to find a qualified candidate as it is the only elected office on the township ticket that a candidate must take required training.

“My family’s legacy of serving the public played a role in it, too,” Crabel said.

With both his mother Sharon Crabel and grandmother Ilion Wait Crabel being longtime elected clerks for both the city and township, and his father Sid appointed by mayors as the former Superintendent of Public Works for the city, the last name Crabel is synonymous with public service.

For the last year, he has been learning the ropes from longtime assessor Sharon Minnes as her deputy while taking about 90 hours worth of classes to be a certified Illinois assessing officer.

The classes are only offered during certain times of the year and are through the Illinois Department of Revenue and Illinois Property Assessment Institute.

Like most residents, Crabel did not know “how much work there is in this position and how much is involved.”

Most all of it, he said, are things an assessor needs to know from day one.

“I was lucky enough to be able to work with Sharon,” he said. “Sharon really worked hard in setting me up for success.”

With his main job of putting a value on property within the township, Crabel will spend part of his time with designated office hours of 9 a.m. until noon Monday through Thursday, appointments and field work in the township or trips to the Peoria County Courthouse.

Time in the field can involve carrying a tape measure and physically walking properties.

The assessor looks at sales, new construction, building permits, obituaries and more to keep the figures correct and fair.

Sometimes the assessor is blamed when their taxes go up.

“We don’t decide how much the taxes are,” Crabel said.

In the last year he has been able to see how Minnes interacts with the public.

“I have been developing a thicker skin. I’m trying to understand it’s not me. I’ve seen all kinds of demeanors in working with Sharon,” he said.

Dealing with the public in filing their exemptions also fills the assessor’s time.

About 800 senior citizens have the senior homestead exemption, which can be filed at age 65 and only needs to be done once.

The senior assessment freeze depends on a senior’s annual and must be filed each year.

“We’re assisting our citizens in making sure that they get the exemptions that they are due,” Crabel said.

Citizens living in townships near Peoria make the trip to the courthouse to file exemptions.

Owners of about 300 of the 800 senior properties in Chillicothe Township, however, come to the office on Fourth Street to take care of their needs.

“It’s a huge service to the seniors to be able to come here,” Crabel said.

Being raised in Chillicothe and known as one of the Crabel triplets, the 1984 graduate of Illinois Valley Central High School moved back to Chillicothe in the early 1990s.

“This is always home,” Crabel said.

He was the director of operations in 2000 at Arrowhead Country Club until leaving in 2006 and starting Shawn Crabel Catering By Design.

He also served on the Chillicothe Park District and Greater Chillicothe Sanitary District boards.

The part-time assessor position will allow him to continue his catering business.

The job also allows him to use his financial background and add his people skills, two things that Crabel said he feels are his strengths and are important in this position.

Beyond that, it appeals to his sense of giving back to the community.

“I feel there is a void of people in my generation being a public servant, and we need that. We need someone to fill their shoes,” Crabel said.

When asked if his grandmother, who held elected positions for more than 65 years, would be proud, Crabel smiled.

“Yes, she would be.”