Jackson County District 4 Supervisor Troy Ross Discusses SRHS Pension Plan

The Singing River Health System pension plan has been in jeopardy for months now and retirees have been relying on the Jackson County Board of Supervisors to give them a voice.
Today, News 25 spoke with Jackson County District 4 Supervisor Troy Ross about his perspective on the pension situation.
“We end up hearing from people who are very upset, frustrated, mad, I don’t blame them for that, I’d be there, too if I was in that position. And we are the only venue for them to vent their concerns so we volunteered to be here and we owe it to the constituents and we owe it to the retirees to be willing to listen,” Ross said.
The supervisors have said they’re doing everything in their power to do what’s best for the retirees, but how much power do they actually have? “People do know that the county owns the building, what they don’t know is that we don’t participate in the funding of the hospital very much, so it would be easy for people to think that we could go in and tell the hospital how to do things, but it’s really not the case,” said Ross.
According to Ross, the supervisors are more like advisors to the hospital’s board of trustees: “Well, the hospital has a budget somewhere around $350 million a year; all we have the power to do is say ‘ok, this is the budget you’ve presented, we’re ok with this or we’re not ok with this.’ We cannot line item and dictate how they spend money, and it was set up that way to keep politics out of the hospitals by the state legislature.”
An open meetings law recently passed through the Legislature that will make the hospital meetings open to the public, along with that comes new legislation giving the supervisors a little more say in the matter.
Ross said “that law also gives us the ability to remove more than one trustee, now how that exactly pans out-how many we can remove-that’s going to be one of those things we have to. The law oftentimes, you don’t know what the law is until you test it in the court system, but I’m under the impression that we’ll be able to remove more than one at time.”
The hospital recently came out with a plan proposal to fund the pension plan at 88%.
“To know that we’re in a plan that’s sustainable over the long term that people will always get 88% or somewhere around that 88%, I think has come a long way. It doesn’t mean that we’re all the way there yet and we continue to encourage the hospital to come up with better options, but I think they’re on the right path,” Ross said.

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