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Jackson County approves hospital budget

PASCAGOULA — The Jackson County Board of Supervisors approved the county hospital system’s $325 million budget without giving the system $2 million in tax dollars.

In the budget, Singing River Health System administrators promised to put $1.2 million toward the failing employee pension and projected a $700,000 profit next year, but they also asked the county for $2 million.

The Sun Herald reports supervisors Monday voted to approve the budget, but took the request for tax-dollar support off the table.

And not all of the supervisors voted to approve the SRHS budget.

Board President Barry Cumbest said he voted against it because parts didn’t seem realistic.

“I’m just uncomfortable with the whole situation,” he said. “I don’t think the hospital can afford what they say they can afford.”

The revenue they are projecting seems too optimistic, he said.

And SRHS CEO Kevin Holland’s request for $2 million from county was just that, a request, supervisors said. It died for lack of a second.

Supervisor Troy Ross said. “No county funds are going to the hospital.”

Supervisor Melton Harris said the board approved the budget “as they say they can make it happen, and we want to see profit numbers continue to go up.”

The supervisors said they look forward to monthly reports, which SRHS administrators offered. They said SRHS might have to consolidate positions, lay off employees to reduce overall salary costs, sell property and sell practices back to doctors to make the budget work.

Retirees of SRHS who are fighting to save their pension plan attended the meeting, but did not address the board.

Outside the meeting, the retirees said it’s good the county is not giving tax dollars to the SRHS administration. They likened it to rewarding poor management. They also want more openness.

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