Lawmaker scolds county for high cost of SRHS case - - The News for South Mississippi

Lawmaker scolds county for high cost of SRHS case

State Representative Charles Busby speaking to Jackson County supervisors. (Photo source: WLOX News) State Representative Charles Busby speaking to Jackson County supervisors. (Photo source: WLOX News)

Supervisors announced Monday that Billy Guice, the attorney hired to investigate Singing River Health System's finances and the pension debacle would also be taking on the KPMG case dealing with accusations of auditing errors. That is not sitting well with some taxpayers who have long complained that too much of their money is being spent on attorneys and the pension saga. One state lawmaker told supervisors the spending has to stop.

State Representative Charles Busby didn't hold back his frustration when talking to supervisors about hiring attorney Billy Guice when the pension mess began at Singing River Health System (SRHS).

“Last December, at the chamber breakfast, I asked you not to go hiring attorneys and forensic accountants and make defendants of yourself, but that didn't happen,” said Busby.

Busby said taxpayers are now left footing a hefty bill for the legal fees. He said retirees are still confused and concerned about the retirement plan that's underfunded by more than $130 million. He feels it's time for Guice to go.

“We have blocked the lines of communication between the other groups who can help us find a solution. So today rather than a solution, we have in the neighborhood of $ 350,000 that has been spent and I don't know if we have anything to show for that,” said Busby.

Many in the crowd Monday agreed.

“We are retired. We depend on our salaries,” said a retiree Ruth Molden.

“It is just too much money for what we got out of it,” said a retiree Irma Doss.

Supervisors strongly disagreed with Busby.

“Three hundred fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money, but we are dealing with people's livelihoods. Ya know, we are dealing with 2,025 people's livelihoods,” said Cumbest.

Supervisor Melton Harris defended Guice and the legal team hired. He also felt Busby's advice was not needed.

“He has an obligation when he is serving in the House of Representatives and so do we. I can see many bills they ponder over, what I think are a waste of taxpayer money. And I can give them a lot of recommendations,” Melton said.

The board also admits this health system saga is complicated and hiring experts is a must.

“The experts are to help us fully understand what needs to be done to make it profitable and how we can fix it,” said Supervisor Troy Ross.

“The information that Guice and his firm compiled was used in the grand jury's decision and remember he said previously in an investigation that he couldn't not find any civil, fraudulent activity taking place in that pension plan,” said Harris.

Regardless some retirees still look at it as wasteful spending and hope, at the very least, the pricey investigation results in a fully funded pension plan.

“We based our living on that, so when that is taken away from us that is like a job that's been taken away,' said retiree Molden.

Busby also called for top executives at the health system to reveal their salaries to the public.

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