The Wentzville Board of Aldermen has voted down a bill that would have reversed last year’s decision to give elected officials health, dental, and vision insurance.
The bill, which had passed a first reading at the previous board meeting on October 26, was up for a second reading and final approval.
Before that could happen, Alderman Robert Hussey called for a subsequent motion to completely eliminate not only the insurance benefit, but also the annual salary for aldermen.
“I think it should be a volunteer position,” he said.
The fact that such a change would only take effect for aldermen elected or re-elected in the future was not lost on Alderman Michael Rhoades. “I commend Mr. Hussey. He wants future boards to work for free while he is getting $21,000 a year,” Rhoades said.
That subsequent motion received yes votes from Hussey, Cheryl Kross, and Linda Wright and no votes from Rhoades, Matt Swanson, and Sonya Shryock. Mayor Nick Guccione stated that he would recuse himself from the vote, causing the motion to fail.
That brought back the original amended bill, which would eliminate just the benefits and leave the salaries at $19,500 for the mayor and $9,500 for aldermen.
“I’ve spent more time this year talking about this than a $90 million budget,” Shryock said. “It’s all about who looks better politically. It’s stupid that we’ve spent this amount of time on it.”
Wright agreed with her. “I would really like to see this go away.”
Shryock, Swanson, and Rhoades voted yes. Hussey and Wright voted against it, and in a surprising turn of events, Kross voted no. The mayor broke the tie vote with a nay, killing the issue.
Later, during aldermen reports, Kross asked for a reconsideration of the bill to confirm the vote. “There was a lot of dialogue going on,” she said. “There may have been some misunderstanding.”
Hussey and Wright again said no, and Shryock switched sides to vote with them. “I’m just so irritated with this whole conversation. I don’t want to discuss it anymore,” Shryock said.
With the vote tied, the mayor quickly voted no. “How many more times will we bring this up?” he said.
The subject cannot be brought back for six months, as per state statute.
Kross took to her Facebook page to apologize to her constituents, saying, “I thought we were voting on one version of the motion and after much discussion I was mistaken. I attempted to correct, but was unsuccessful in getting support to bring back last night for a reconsideration vote.
“I hope to bring back after 6 months through a new ordinance amendment. My hope, at that time to include POLICY for establishing Alderman Compensation. This has a been a burden on my heart and felt I needed to share,” Kross said.