JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Jackson County Board of Supervisors President Barry Cumbest gave the annual State of the County Address on Wednesday. Supervisors announced attorneys are now investigating whether lawsuits are warranted over what supervisors call misleading audit reports.
The county's agreement with Singing River Health System not to dissolve the pension plan is set to expire March 15. Supervisors say they feel confident the CPA firm they've hired will present some possible solutions in the nick of time.
"Progress is being made on that, and we are hopeful that within the next four to six weeks, we will have some options to consider," said Cumbest. "Hopefully, at the time this problem with the pension plan won't look as it has looked over the last few months."
Supervisors said Laporte, the New Orleans firm the county has hired, is looking at how to create a healthy financial future for SRHS.
"We have hired another division of Laporte to do a profitability study of the hospital and provide the board suggestions as how to improve the financial sustainability of the hospital for this community," Cumbest said. "We want to look long term at how to make our hospital more financially sustainable so it can be financially viable and secure for years to come."
Supervisors said they're not happy with the audit information that was provided to them from 2008 to 2013. An investigation is underway as to whether lawsuits are warranted.
"I don't think it's any secret that this board is not pleased with the audit information that was provided and relied upon for the 2008 to 2013, which were done by KPMG, the auditing firm retained by the hospital," Cumbest said.
"Right now, we are in the process of our attorney's expert of evaluation documents and our attorneys are working on this matter to recommend to the county what claims against what entities, if any, we may have. We have not completed this investigation, but this is a matter of potential litigation," said Cumbest.
When asked if board members felt the audit reports they were given were misleading, Cumbest said, "Yes, I do. We do feel that way. We don't know why they were misled the way they were or why they were written the way they were, but that will come out in our looking back also."
Jackson County supervisors said they are committed to trying to find a solution to the pension problem, one that doesn't hurt retirees, employees or the hospital system.