And Now You Know the Rest of the Story

On Monday Jackson County’s Board of Supervisors approved a multi-million dollar corporate welfare package for Chevron, the county’s third largest company. The decision was met with much criticism from the public as it was approved just weeks before a new board is sworn in. Also troubling was the complete lack of discussion on the item. Supervisor Melton Harris admitted to speaking to other supervisors about the measure, but not in such a way to flout open meetings laws.

At the time, Supervisor Barry Cumbest told the Sun Herald’s Karen Nelson “We’re just doing it today, no particular reason. It can be done this year or next year, either one. We decided to go ahead and do it.” Knowing all the facts, it does seem that the board had a “particular reason.”

Now we learn a likely particular reason: Moody’s downgraded the county’s debt on Nov. 30 and is likely to do so again.

The JCBOS already had knowledge of this information and chose not to share it with the public. They further subverted the wishes of the taxpayers and voters of this county by rushing through a vote on a tax break for Chevron. Moody’s points out that if the county could increase reserves, the rating could go up. Jackson County’s first contribution of $10 million to Chevron shareholders would go a long way toward shoring up the rainy day fund.

Moody’s cites the pension problems at Singing River Health System as well as a “weak financial disclosure practices” by Jackson County. The rating organization will be reviewing the county’s books as well as all component units including:

  • Singing River Health System
  • Jackson County Port Authority
  • West Jackson County Utility District
  • Jackson-George Regional Library

Though not a likely scenario, Moody’s press release threatens that if enough information is not provided by the county, the hospital, the port etc., the rating could be revoked entirely.

Chevron had profits of $19.2 billion in the previous fiscal year.

Moody’s Press Release

Chevron Gets Huge Exemption on Investment, Sun Herald, Karen Nelson

5 thoughts on “And Now You Know the Rest of the Story”

  1. Thank you Watch for again giving us breaking news that we all needed to hear!

    I can’t wait to see how all of this will play out. We tried to warn the citizens of Jackson Coubty during the campaign season , few listened.

    Oh what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive

    The JCBOS can play the dumb game all they want, but there is not one dummy among them. To continue to grant exemptions like they did for Chevron shows , no proves they are getting something in return. One can only assume what will be left in their Christmas stockings in 2 short weeks

    SRHS has and continues to pull strings with JCBIS as well. The incompetent and ever power hungry money grabbing currebt and former executive leadership and board of trustee has continues to run havoc on OUR County!

    It saddens me that there is not enough people willing to speak out to make them Do The Right Thing

    Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus but it looks like he has a very defective crystal ball because he continues to give the naughty boys of jackson Coubty all their wishes and leave us hard working honest down to earth ones huge lumps of coal

  2. What Moody’s also said was “draws on county reserves to support the health system … pensions” could make the rating go down even more. Also the “loss or downsizing of a critical taxpayer” do the same. I guess the BOS made Chevron (the biggest taxpayer in the County) happy to avoid any issue there.

    Falling ratings are never a good thing. Yet, A3 still appears to be a pretty good rating. But just like when your personal credit score goes down, if a government’s bond rating goes down, its interest rates can go up. That means higher debt payments. There are three normal ways to pay for that: cut other county services, dip into your reserves (and risk a further rating decline) or raise taxes (which the BOS has repeatedly said it will not do).

    Not to make excuses, but the County is caught between a rock and a hard-place. Paying $13M over 5 years as part of a settlement (and without a tax increase) would surely cause a further decline in the County’s bond rating. But if SRHS does not get the litigation solved quickly, then it risks dragging the County down with it.

    If there is ever a default by SRHS on its bonds, and the County is called upon to begin making payments, then the County’s bond rating will be the same as Chicago’s: JUNK. We all know what’s coming, if that happens.

    1. A3 is good, but based on the limited information they have now. When they dig deep and see the county foregoing revenue, paying out hefty lawyers fees, and whatever other cockroaches crawl out it could go even lower.

      As for SRHS dragging the county down with it, that was always the issue. It is a bigger operation than the county, with massive knock-on effects for the county, yet county leadership never took a real interest in oversight.

      As far as making Chevron happy, that is an old canard that gets drug out every time there is a tax break. It’s Chevron’s largest refinery, only refinery in the Atlantic, and has been there for 50 years. They ain’t moving and they ain’t closing.

  3. I guess what I find most baffling about the granting of Chevron’s request is the way this board handled the matter. Just the statements made by the individual members are enough to raise the suspicions of many. There is also the possible conflict of interest that McKay,Harris and Ross may have as past/present employees. Mangum also works(or did) at a company that does substantial business with Chevron.Of course we know this group of men do not recognize or would acknowledge anything as a conflict of interest based on recent history. At a time when the county desperately needs the tax revenue for many reasons this board gives one of the largest energy companies in the world a gigantic tax break not offered to others. Chevron, who had net profits of over $2 billion in the third quarter can well afford to pay the full amount of taxes due without any reduction.What else are these guys up to that we will learn about after the fact? They seem to be intent on doing as much harm as possible to Jackson County and the people who live here on purpose or because they just cannot must the brain cells needed to make good decisions.They for certain do not want the public having any input about how our money is being collected and spent.For this reason alone the current members of the JCBOS should be ashamed of their collective actions.

    1. The rush vote is evidence that the two new supervisors are a threat to the good ole boy system. Hopefully we will see some change in the next year.

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