Miss. PERS asks local governments to increase contributions; Jackson County leaders react

Municipalities push back against retirement increase request
Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 6:25 PM CST
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JACKSON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Mississippi’s Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) is asking local governments to make a staggering increase in its contributions. In an email sent to municipalities, PERS is requesting an increase of 17.4% to 22.4%.

That increase will cost anywhere from a couple hundred thousand to more than a million.

“Should the legislature pass the requested increase, it would cost the city of Gautier an estimated $306,000,” said Gautier Mayor Casey Vaughn. “That would halt future pay increase for all employees and stifle the addition of needed personnel. That also means the citizens of Gautier would have a large tax increase.”

In Moss Point, the 5% increase would add up to almost $200,000. For a city struggling financially, the repercussions could be serious.

“[The increase] is gonna take away from the services we provide to our people because our budget is already strapped, and I can’t emphasize that enough,” said Moss Point Mayor Billy Knight. “Our budget has been strapped for a while, but it’s getting better. These kind of things don’t help us.”

The requested increase will cost Pascagoula-Gautier School District $550,000, the City of Ocean Springs $590,000 and Jackson County $1.2 million.

Those massive price tags are why some mayors are creating a resolution that asks state lawmakers to intervene and find alternative ways to pay for the increase, instead of putting the financial burden on local governments.

“I do not think the PERS board would make such a drastic decision if they knew the repercussions it would cost each government,” said Mayor Vaughn.

He believes PERS should have more oversight from legislature.

“When you’re asking for that rate of an increase, something needs to be looked at,” he added.

In the state capitol, law makers are considering House Bill 605. It would require approval of any increase requests made by PERS.

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