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St. Louis County Council drops pension hike for county prosecutor

Bob McCulloch is sworn in for another term as St. Louis County Prosecutor in 2015.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI
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The St. Louis County Council took back a pension boost for St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch.

Updated Thursday, Nov. 30 with new comments from McCulloch:

 

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch blames “political vindictiveness’’ for the County Council’s decision to get rid of a pension increase for his job that it had approved last year.

Council Chairman Sam Page says the issue is fairness.

 

<--break->The council voted 6-1 on Tuesday night to drop the pension increase. The council’s action means that county prosecutor will now receive a full pension from the state and two-thirds of a county pension. The council had voted last year to allow the prosecutor to collect a full county pension, in addition to the state pension.

After the vote, Page noted that the council also approved a bill Tuesday that reduces pensions for new county workers. Dropping an increase for the county prosecutor’s pension was part of a compromise, Page said.

“There was only one other county in the state that offers one and two-thirds pensions for the prosecuting attorney that we can find, and that’s St. Charles County,” Page said. “Every other jurisdiction forbids two pensions for one job.”

But McCulloch said Thursday that Page is wrong. Almost every other county in the state allows for the county prosecutor to collect two pensions -- one from the state and the other from the local jurisdiction -- to compensate for their low pay. The city of St. Louis is among the few exceptions, the prosecutor said.

In his case, McCulloch noted that the county pension board had recommended the increase for his job to compensate for the lower pay that the county prosecutor receives, compared to veteran lawyers in private practice. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, McCulloch makes $160,000 a year.

McCulloch contended that the council had reversed itself after receiving faulty information about his pension.

He also asserted that some council members still harbor resentment because McCulloch had opposed the 2014 re-election bid of then-County Executive Charlie Dooley. McCulloch backed Steve Stenger, who now holds the county’s top job.

“From the outset, this was nothing but pure political vindictiveness on their part,” McCulloch said.

But the prosecutor added that his own political plans remain unchanged. He already has announced he will seek an eighth term in 2018.

Follow Jo on Twitter: @jmannies

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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