More butting of heads regarding pension changes for St. Louis County Council members

The St. Louis County Council has taken up a controversial bill that would roll back retirement pension changes that the council unanimously approved last year.

Last November, the Council made adjustments to the pension fund for county staff that was meant to improve their benefits package and help retain quality employees.

Then, the change was passed without issue, but some have voiced concerns recently, claiming it was specifically crafted to benefit St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch.

Councilwoman Hazel Erby, who introduced the new rollback bill, said it wasn’t about attacking McCulloch’s character but about what’s fair.

“The County Executive [Steve Stenger] made a statement saying that it was his intention to reward the prosecuting attorney,” Erby said. “He said that, we didn’t say that. I believe that there should be one job, one pension, and I look at the other county employees who are not privy to that kind of pension reward when they leave here.”

McCulloch, who was present at the committee, blamed the whole controversy on The St. Louis Post Dispatch, which he said published misinformation.

“You haven’t heard a single word from me, political [or] anything at all, and that’s very intentional on my part,” McCulloch said. “This entire controversy — if you will — is based upon false information published by The Post.”

Attorney John Hessel, who represented McCulloch at the committee hearing, said the original bill that was passed last November wouldn’t benefit McCulloch, but rather whoever holds the position of prosecuting attorney in the future.

“It does not effect McCulloch today,” Hessel said. “It only goes into effect January 1, 2019. Therefore, it’s only going to effect future office holders. I personally hope Bob McCulloch is the office holder, but if he’s not ,then that change will benefit and attract the best prosecuting attorney possible.”

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