Report: Fully funding SRHS pension plan is impossible - - The News for South Mississippi

Report: Fully funding SRHS pension plan is impossible

(Photo source: WLOX) (Photo source: WLOX)

Many Singing River Health System retirees and employees are furious after reading a report released by attorney Billy Guice, the man Jackson County supervisors hired to investigate the health system’s ailing finances. The report backs up Guice’s claim that SRHS cannot afford to fund the failing pension plan at 100 percent.

Irby Tillman and his fellow retirees refuse to believe their former employer can’t fully fund their retirement plan at 100 percent.

“The numbers don’t lie, but the men have a way of pushing numbers around to make it look good for them,” said Tillman. 

Jackson County supervisors said according to calculations from the New Orleans accounting firm LaPorte, health system officials would have to contribute nearly $172 million to fully fund the plan for retirees and employees to get their checks for life or until they are 84 years old. The problem is the payments would skyrocket year after year.

“It has somewhere like a few million dollar investment for the first 10 years, and after that, it jumps to about a $10 million, and then you are starting to get into the huge numbers, tens of millions of dollars and ending somewhere in the $30 millions. It would be a massive obstacle to climb to be able to attain that,” said Supervisor Troy Ross.

Retirees said the report is misleading and the numbers are based on today's economy, which could improve. They would like a new firm to also crunch the numbers.

“That is only one assumption. It is like a snapshot of a picture, and they have directed that picture. Until we have a chance to direct it and make changes to it and see if it works, it is just loaded,” retiree Cisco Aguilar said.

Thirty year retiree Brenda Eiland also has advice on how the health system can keep up with the possible increasing payments.

“I think the employees need to contribute a little bit more. The hospital needs to contribute more money not just the minimal amount they can find, and they need to sell property,” Eiland said.

These retirees said they are not trying to bankrupt the hospital. They just want what they were promised.

“We want 100 percent. I gave 100 percent, and these folks gave 100 percent. We want what was promised,” said Tillman.

Singing River Health System has proposed funding the pension plan at 88 percent.

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