403(b) & 401(k) Hidden Fees

As the issues with the pension plan progress, there is another retirement plan issue that needs to be reviewed: the fees associated with 403(b) and 401(k) accounts.

Many at SRHS are participating in the 403(b) or participating in retirement savings via their spouse’s employer. They should have assurances that the plan is maximizing the retirement, and not being used to funnel fees back to the hands of administration. Locally, this has affected employees at Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

Why is this important? Hidden fees in these plans can have a huge impact on your savings:

If a company does right by its workers, it finds low-cost, well diversified, smart investment choices, many experts say. But Schlichter says some companies offer workers mutual funds with fees that are way too high. Sometimes, he says, the companies get kickbacks for that.

And over time, he says, “it’s hugely devastating. A 1 percent difference in fees over a 35-year work career makes a 28 percent difference in the retirement assets available to that worker. So this is huge. It may mean that the employee has to extend their work another six or seven years instead of retiring when they wanted to or their lifestyle in retirement is severely hurt.”

 

Listen to the full stories below.

Singing River Doth Protest Too Much

How much would you spend to keep your secrets from public view? $1 million? $2.5 million? $5 million?

As of this writing, Singing River has spent nearly $1 million dollars fighting their own employees and retirees in court. Most of that money has been spent in an attempt to delay proceedings and prevent the public from getting answers about what was going on behind closed doors and where the money went. Continue reading

Secret Meetings Bring Tax Breaks for the Rich & Infamous

Just hours after Judge Breland Hilburn’s decision that SRHS owes the pension debt, there is chatter and worry about tax increases. Today’s decision only answers one of the largest of many questions brought in the lawsuit.  There are several more questions that will need to be answered before the determination of necessity of tax increases, if any.robinleach

With that said, if there are any tax increases, it will be because the JCBOS has given away millions of dollars in tax money to some of the largest corporations in the world. These give-aways come in the form of property tax breaks and other incentives designed to encourage economic development.  Mom & Pop don’t get such tax breaks, unless they’re politically connected. Jackson County could have millions more dollars in reserve and in the general fund if they quit giving special treatment to big business.

Back Door Tax Increase on Homeowners

These kinds of of tax breaks act as a back door increase on homeowners.  Every dollar that is given away to industry, is one that could be returned to homeowners if the industry were to pay.

If the county has a budget of $100, Chevron pays $30. When Chevron expands, the expansion would add $3 to Chevron’s tax bill, but Jackson County gave them a $3 tax break. If Chevron were to pay $3 more in taxes, that is $3 that could go back to homeowners as a tax decrease – or be saved for a rainy day. Continue reading

Denham Puts SRHS, County on Notice

Earl Denham, attorney for several retirees, put the Jackson County Board of Supervisors and Singing River Health System on notice for potential fraud related claims.

State law requires that anyone desiring to bring an action against a public hospital or county provide at least 90 days notice prior to filing suit. Denham’s notice is intended to meet that requirement.

The fraud claim is based on the fact that hospital executives were accepting raises while Singing River was in the middle of a cash crunch. The cash crunch was the excuse executives used to not make contributions to the pension plan. Denham maintains that the excessive raises executives received should have been contributed to the pension plan.

The JCBOS is named because they were personally aware of the lack of funding and conspired with SRHS administrators, board members, and attorneys to terminate the plan and rid the county of the pension debt.

SRHS has been vocal in its defense of CFO Lee Bond, stating that as a late comer to the pension matter, Bond should not be included in any conspiracy charges.

Denham answers that in the latest documents noting:

The trustees’ minutes of October 24, 2014, indicate that CFO Lee Bond had met with the [JCBOS] prior to the attempt to terminate the retirement plan, so that each and every supervisor was aware of the retirement plan shortage and participated in the secret plan to terminate and to conceal the termination until it was irrevocable.

The notice asserts that in the case of fraud, each of the conspirators would be personally liable.

Denham previously brought claims of fraud and conspiracy in the Almond litigation. He subsequently withdrew those claims after objections that he was alleging torts for which no notice had been provided to defendants. It is assumed he will continue in chancery court, but there will likely be a fight over jurisdiction.

Almond, et al. Tort Claims Notice

 

Talks About Talks; Razzle Dazzle From SRHS, JCBOS

The last two meetings of the JCBOS have been spent talking about talking. Today Singing River confirmed that the “talks about talks” have been just that: talk.

“We have not been contacted by anyone about having a meeting of this nature but will certainly consider any requests,” SRHS Director of Communications Richard Lucas said Tuesday night.

April Havens, The Mississippi Press

 

How hard is to pick up the phone and call your campaign contributor Kevin Holland?  What about have your attorney call their attorney? Maybe they needed to check with the powers behind the throne. Continue reading

Transparency Comes to JCBOS in Form of Desperation, More Razzle Dazzle

Dum Roma deliberat, Saguntum perit

 

After nearly ten months the JCBOS has finally decided to bring transparency to the board room. Sadly what is most transparent is their desperation.

After McKay and Mangum’s defeat and with Ross and Cumbest facing run offs, a shock wave went through the good old boys club. No surprise that meeting following elections, the board decided to finally take action. Billy Guice has become persona non grata and the board, who squelched public comment months ago, was again interested in talking to retirees.

It is the opinion of your correspondent that the discussions that took place at Monday’s meeting were nothing more than an orchestrated attempt between SRHS, their counsel, and the JCBOS to serve political ambitions and settle the situation in a shroud of secrecy. Continue reading

Sunday Long Read: The Perfect Good Old Boy Tax Comes to Jackson County

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series on the effort to bring a hotel tax to Jackson County. Previous report can be found here.

Taxes – no matter what most politicians say, they love them. Tax money enables the politician to wield influence, enrich themselves, and reward their politically allied business friends. Spending tax dollars on the right projects and people ensures the politician he will be re-elected over and over.  The only problem is that voters HATE taxes.

This is a conundrum for the politician. He needs money to spend, but his voters will crucify him for raising taxes. Instead he goes and fund-raises from the federal government. He and his colleagues spend money on lobbyists to ensure smooth deal flow. He and his colleagues hire lawyers and consultants to issue bonds. But only if he could raise taxes and get away with it or, better yet, tap into an entirely new revenue stream.

The perfect tax for a politician would be one his constituents don’t pay and would apply only to those living outside his district. No one would ever complain and hundreds of thousands of dollars each year would be raised to benefit a very select few. And if those select few happened to donate to his campaign?! Ah.. we have found the perfect tax. Continue reading

An Introduction to ALEC

While this story is from Georgia, the exact same process goes on and affects state and local legislation here in Mississippi.

 

On the local level, there are two different groups that work to influence the boards of supervisors and city councils to get favorable local legislation for corporate interests. The Singing River pension crisis has spilled over to the JCBOS and now threatens to return decision making to the people and away from corporate constituents.

If there is an issue you would like to see covered, or one which deserves more explanation, please comment anonymously below.

These are complex issues to follow. The crony capitalists hope you will lose interest. Keep watching. Keep following.

JCBOS Trolls, Push Polls Retirees

The JCBOS has posted a “poll” it would like retirees to fill out. It’s full of accusation, rumor, and innuendo. Highly unprofessional.

A push poll usually involves a telephone call where the caller purports to be taking a political poll. They aren’t interested in your answer, but rather want to ask a question in such a way that it sways your opinion about the candidate or issue.

Example: If you were to learn when Barry Cumbest’s father was a supervisor, he was convicted for fraud on the county and sentenced to a year in prison, would you be more likely or less likely to vote for him?

 

Continue reading