According to American Community Organizer and Democratic National Convention member, Dr. Oliver D. Robinson, there is much more than $20,000 left in the hospital pension fund.
"The board of Supervisors is saying that they don't have any money, but the board has $7 million in a bank account here in Cleveland. They are not doing their job properly. Individuals have only been paid out of one account and they are still due money from the other two accounts. "Some of them have not received any money period. We don’t want a war to escalate from the ongoing situation about the retirement plan,” said Robinson.
"The reason that the employees or former employees are pushing this is because they were told how much money they had in their retirement. It is a violation of the law to give a person a verbal contract and show them on paper the total amount of benefits that they have but only receive a portion of it,” he added.
According to Robinson, he was selected by members of congress to look into key issues in Mound Bayou and other communities, and as of now the matter of the hospital’s pension is one of his main priorities.
"It is my obligation to help clear this up, to help quiet the people down. If the board of supervisors is not going to do their job, then they should turn in their resignations. People have been calling me and seeking answers about their money. Bolivar County sold the hospital in 2000 to Providence Health Care, and in December of the same year, employees were called into an office in the hospital and informed about the amount of money that they had accumulated over the years in there," said Robinson.
“He told them how much they had in their retirement plan and he showed them a paper with the amount on it.”
Robinson said after the pension fund recipients received their first payout, they were accepting but not satisfied especially after Supervisor Andrew Williams made promises to them.
"In an interview with WXVT-TV, Supervisor Andrew Williams said that people who worked at Bolivar Medical for 10 years or more, could go to the chancery clerk office and show identification and proof that they worked at the hospital and they would receive their check. When they went there, an employee at the personnel office wrote down their names, addresses and telephone numbers, but they did not receive a check in the mail, instead they received dummy letters, that had not been signed by either one of the supervisors,” he added.
According to the alleged letter from Bolivar County Chancery Clerk Brenett Haynes, the county is holding funds that resulted from the termination of the Bolivar Medical Center Pension Plan.
The plan provided benefits for each eligible employee based on their compensation and years of service.
The letter also mentioned that the plan was terminated with the Internal Tax Revenue Service approval and all former employees of the hospital have been paid their entire benefit from the plan, with the last remaining participants being paid their benefit in July 2008.
In a previous interview, Williams said, “There are three different pension funds, and only one of them has funds remaining to be disbursed. The pension fund mentioned on the news was actually a remaining balance after the county matched the funds from the hospital’s pension, and the remaining balance was sent back to the county.”
According to Robinson, his main focus is for the supervisors to get their act together.
“We elected those supervisors to take care of the business of Bolivar County and they should have the time to look into situations of this magnitude. The money that was owed never died in the minds of the people who were told that they had that amount of money in their retirement,” he added.
“They need to contact the Internal Revenue Service and the attorney general of Mississippi to see if they have the authority to chop a portion of that millions, to give the recipients some kind of compensation.
"They are not trying to get anything that does not belong to them, they are only trying to collect what they have worked hard for," added Robinson.