SRHS retirees pledge to fight to save pension plan - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

SRHS retirees pledge to fight to save pension plan

SRHS retirees vow to keep fighting for failed pension plan. (Photo source: WLOX News) SRHS retirees vow to keep fighting for failed pension plan. (Photo source: WLOX News)
JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

New information could be released as early as Tuesday concerning the battle to fund Singing River Health System (SRHS) retirees' pensions. As Patrice Clark reports, many retirees were hoping to walk away with an update from Monday's Jackson County supervisors meeting, but that didn't happen.

Jackson County board president Barry Cumbest kept mum when asked if any progress was made to fully fund the health system's struggling pension plan that is now underfunded by at least $150 million.

“No, I can't,” said Cumbest.

Supervisors have remained relatively silent since attorneys for the retirees filed a lawsuit two weeks ago against the health system and the board was included in the complaint. Now supervisors only allow Attorney Billy Guice, the man hired to investigate the health systems' finances and the pension debacle to provide updates.

“He will be in touch with you, he has prepared a statement and he didn't have it prepared today, it is dealing with the hospital” said Cumbest.

Guice echoed that response when WLOX called him, saying an update should be available Tuesday.

“It is my money. I worked for it and I want it,” said retiree Johnnie Clausell.

Several retirees and their supporters told the board they're tired of waiting for answers and want action.

“There is enough money spent out by Singing River Health System for attorneys and what this county is spending to replenish and restart that pension,” said a retiree to supervisors.

Many of them also wore black to the board meeting in honor of retiree, Jean Shoemaker who died from cancer last week. They pledge to continue their pension fight in her memory.

“What they have done to us is not right,” said retiree Brenda Eiland said.

“We are going to stay here and fight in her name and whoever needs us. That's what we are, we are family,” said Clausell.

Richard Lucas, Director of Communications, Singing River Health System had this to say about the underfunded pension plan,

“Singing River Health System and its Board of Trustees have been working for months to develop a set of concepts to present to State Court and Federal Court that will hopefully resolve the pension plan issue in the best interest of all parties. The latest version of said concepts was reached at last week's regular Board of Trustees meeting. Any proposals for resolution must be presented to the Courts for consideration, and no changes will occur to the plan as the concepts are considered. We are hopeful to have a set of concepts ready in the near future to present to the Courts, and remain optimistic that a resolution is near. We will move forward with sharing the details of these new concepts as soon as that is deemed appropriate in the eyes of the Courts.”

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