The St. Louis County Council on Tuesday will vote on a bill that would give county police officers a raise and also set aside a portion of funds from Prop P for pensions.
Earlier this month the St. Louis County Council moved an ordinance 6-0 to final passage after they passed a substitution bill that requires 15 percent of the Proposition P money to be set aside for pensions.
St. Louis County Councilman Sam Page said this was a precaution to see how the raise would affect police officers pensions.
“Being careful in how we spend Prop P money is just common sense. I support a big raise for police officers but we have to do it responsibly,” Page said. “The simple truth is that the administration has refused to answer straightforward questions about how the raises will impact the retirement system. Until those questions are answered, it is difficult to proceed with a big raise for police officers.”
The raises would come from Proposition P tax with approximately $19 million of the tax money going towards the increase in salary for county police.
Proposition P is a half-cent sales tax that’s expected to generate $80 million a year for public safety. It was passed this April with sixty-three percent of St. Louis County voters voting in favor of the tax.
Controversy arose at the last county council meeting when Matt Crecelius, business manager at the St. Louis County Police Association, read text messages that Councilman Page missent regarding the county police raise.
The texts were meant for advisor Garry Earls, the county’s former chief operating officer under former St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, but were sent to St. Louis County Director of Parks Gary Bess, instead.
In the messages, Page states that he was going to introduce a substitution bill to set aside 15 percent of Proposition P money until the pension impact was known. Otherwise, he said it may make County Executive Steve Stenger look like a “hero”.
In response to the misspent texts, Page said he relies on outside help to routinely assist with complex issues.
“I depend on many people for advice in county government and I appreciate that advice,” Page said. “We try not to get personalities involved but unfortunately the information we need to make decisions has been routinely withheld, but I think we have a plan to move forward. I am disappointed as anyone that the discussion of the pension has been politicized.”