Jackson County Supervisors demand answers about hospital pension plan problems

Jackson County Supervisors demand answers about hospital pension plan problems

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - There are still no concrete answers on how the pension problem at Singing River Hospital will be fixed. Monday, Singing River Health System officials met behind closed doors with Jackson County Supervisors about the issue since the health system announced they can't afford the existing plan.

As hundreds of Singing River Health System retirees and employees' full pension pay continues to hang in limbo. Jackson County board members demanded transparency Monday regarding the underfunded plan from CEO Kevin Holland, his financial team and board members.

"There are no doubt there are folks who are frustrated and we are trying our best to get to the bottom of it," Supervisor Melton Harris said.

Many of the workers had been contributing three percent into a pension plan, but in 2009 the hospital system stopped contributing its share and didn't communicate it. Both groups met in executive session about the issue for more than an hour.

"Our question is what next? What do we do next to best solidify the hospital and the county and move forward, " Supervisor Troy Ross asked.

While Holland and his team were tightlipped after the meeting, supervisors discussed the possibility of launching an investigation.

"We are taking all the steps we need to do to gather all the information to find out what happened, why it happened and to make sure this type of problem doesn't happen again. We really don't have all the answers yet. We really can't speculate on that at this point," Ross said.

But with $138 million in assets and $285 million in obligations, Ross had to admit the retirement plan is not in the best shape.

"The hospital is a huge part of Jackson County. It is critical we do this right. It is a very big problem that we need to make sure that were are doing everything right to make sure it is adequately funded and taken care of in the future," said Ross.

Following the meeting, Richard Lucas with SRHS released a statement saying in part:

"Singing River Health System is committed to working with the Board of Supervisors and keeping them informed."

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