JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The budget for 2016 is big, $325 million. But, it could be a moneymaker, turning a profit of about $700,000 if all goes well. This is after Singing River Health System lost almost $70 million the past three years. The retirement plan, now hanging by a financial thread, would see a boost.
"We'll be putting $1.2 million per year for the next four years, $3 million for the next four years after that and $4.5 million starting in 2024," explained SRHS Chief Executive Officer Kevin Holland.
The hospital is asking for help from the county in the form of a $2 million a year payment to offset uncompensated care that totals $120 million annually.
"We basically are asking for the county's help to help us offset some of that cost. There are other health care systems in our state that are supported by the community. You need to look no further than George County," said Holland.
Some county supervisors did not discount the idea of financial aid. One of them is Melton Harris.
"We will go back and look at it and discuss it to see what it will require. Will it require a tax increase? We will discuss those issues," Harris said.
Holland added that paying attorney fees to defend the system over the failed pension plan are mounting up quickly, and that adds stress to the bottom line.
"The legal fees right now are running between $150,000 to $200,000 a month on the high end," said Holland.
Health system officials say if they get the $1.8 million to $2 million from the county they have requested, they could fund the pension plan by up to 95 percent.
For some of the retirees, that still isn't enough. That includes Kitty Aguilar.
"If they can get it to 95 percent, they can stretch a little bit further and get it to 100 percent, because at our ages, there is nothing that we can do improve our situation," said Aguilar.
At least for now, the hospital system is improving its situation.
Supervisors took the budget under advisement and will vote on accepting the proposal at the next meeting in September.