JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Jackson County supervisors met Monday to discuss the future of the beleaguered Singing River Health System pension fund. And again, they went behind closed doors to do so - for two hours.
Health system retirees who attended the meeting were not shy about expressing their frustrations about being left out "once again," as they put it.
"They don't need to go back there and hide and discuss it. It needs to be out in the public," Brenda Eiland said. "Like the budget, the hospital budget, that's a public thing."
Health System board of trustee members were called back to the meeting. Personnel issues were also discussed, which wasn't on the agenda. Board President Troy Ross was ambiguous about what happened.
"It means exactly what it means. A personal issue at the hospital when there was a discussion that we undertook," Ross said.
More frustration from the retirees, including Irby Tillman.
"It's been going on for three years," Tillman said. "For three years, they've been meeting back behind closed doors. It's time to get this out in the public. it is a public institution, it's a county owned hospital."
When supervisors emerged, they announced no action was taken. That was no surprise to most of the retirees.
"When there are so many executive sessions, there should be some kind report, at least afterward, that explains more than just simply no action was taken, which happens most of the time," Cisco Aguilar said.
This board has promised transparency in dealing with the health system, but not all the time, according to Ross.
"Sometimes, transparency can create more litigation and puts the taxpayers more at risk. And I don't want to be the one responsible for putting taxpayers more at risk than they already are," Ross said.
The board meets again next Monday for a regular meeting. More than likely, the retirees will be on hand once again looking for answers.
As you may recall, the SRHS retirement fund almost went bankrupt three years ago and was ordered reinstated by the courts. A settlement that was reached between a majority of the retirees was rejected recently by a three-judge panel of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
The case has now been sent back for rehearing to federal court in Gulfport.