One of the primary objectives for MAS is to educate county supervisors and other county officials on items of importance to counties. MAS provides numerous additional services and benefits to its members.
MAS holds numerous regional and statewide meetings throughout the year to educate supervisors on a variety of topics important to counties. Stephanie Spangler, MAS Director of Member Services, is responsible for planning and coordinating all MAS conferences – including contracting with the venues, caterers and other providers; distributing and processing registration forms; overseeing on-site registrations and other duties. She also secures event sponsorships from vendors doing business with MAS and counties.
MAS spends the majority of its lobbying efforts protecting county government from harmful legislation (such as unfunded mandates that reduce county revenue and/or mandate expenses to counties), with the balance of efforts toward advocacy of legislation that helps and advances the core duties of county government.
Steve Gray, Director of Governmental Affairs, is the primary point-of-contact for MAS at the State Capitol. Steve works with MAS Executive Director Derrick Surrette and the MAS Legislative Committee to ensure that counties’ interests are protected at the state level.
County governments are responsible for millions of dollars’ worth of public property. Routine county government activities such as road maintenance, law enforcement and jail operations expose counties to frequent and sometimes large liability claims. Recognizing these risks, MAS formed and administers a property and casualty self-insurance program. Formed in April 2014, the MAS Insurance Trust (“MASIT”) provides low-cost, broad insurance coverage, along with a range of risk management services, to Mississippi county members. MASIT provides all of this in the form of a nonprofit entity that is owned solely by its county members. In addition to upfront savings and member ownership, surplus funds will be returned to county government members in future program years in the form of dividends or premium reductions, as determined by the MASIT Board of Trustees. This program is run for and by county government, and in its first year of operation saved Mississippi taxpayers in excess of $2.5 million.
MASIT currently has 53 member counties across the State. MASIT is governed by a 15-member Board of Trustees who are elected at the MAS Annual Convention in June each year. Members serve staggered four-year terms. Only supervisors from MASIT member counties may serve as a Trustee.
MAS has a history of supporting higher education through the awarding of scholarships to graduating high school seniors enrolled in Mississippi community and junior colleges. In June 2015, the MAS Board of Supervisors approved a new scholarship program that will be administered solely by MAS.
The new program provides for scholarships to be awarded to children or grandchildren of county employees. Counties will receive one scholarship for each eligible program in which it participates.
- MAS Property and Casualty Scholarship. One $500 scholarship will be awarded to students residing in each county participating in the MAS Insurance Trust program.
- MAS Workers Compensation Scholarship. One $500 scholarship will be awarded to students residing in each county participating in the Mississippi Public Entity Workers’ Compensation Trust.
Currently, all 82 counties are members of the workers’ compensation program, and 53 are members of MASIT, resulting in at least $61,000 to be awarded under the County Employee Scholarship Program.
Scholarships will be awarded to current or retired county employees or their spouses, children, stepchildren, grandchildren or step-grandchildren. Applicants must meet certain criteria and submit a completed application packet.
In October 2014, the MAS Board of Directors approved implementation of the Inmate Medical Cost Containment Program (“IMCCP”). Mississippi counties are responsible for paying medical costs incurred by county inmates while they are incarcerated. MAS successfully lobbied the Mississippi Legislature in passing House Bill 1111 in 2010, which limits counties’ fiscal responsibilities to the current Mississippi Medicaid reimbursement rate. House Bill 1111 reads in part “…medical care service providers will be paid…an amount no greater than the reimbursement rate applicable based on the Mississippi Medicaid reimbursement rate. The Board of Supervisors of any county shall not be liable for any cost…that exceeds the Mississippi Medicaid reimbursement rate.” (emphasis added)
While House Bill 1111 had been law for several years, counties were still being charged the full rate for medical services provided to their inmates. MAS partnered with Gulf Guaranty Employee Benefits Services, Inc., a Mississippi-domiciled Third Party Administrator (TPA), to provide competent and efficient claims administration to counties joining the IMCCP. Counties are issued medical claim cards to be presented when inmates visit medical providers. The medical provider then submits the bills directly to Gulf Guaranty, which reviews the bills for disallowed charges and ensures the correct pricing for the services. In its first few months of operation, the IMCCP has saved member counties over 72% of billed medical charges, returning over $450,000 of taxpayer dollars back to counties.
In October 2014, MAS launched the Small Loan Program which provides counties an additional financing option for small loans or purchases of $1.5 million or less with repayment terms up to 10 years. Loans are bid out to Mississippi-based banks, fostering goodwill with local institutions. The Small Loan Program may be used to finance capital improvements, purchase equipment and vehicles, meet cash flow needs or cover tax collection shortfalls. Loans are tailored specifically to the county’s needs.
MAS partners with Young Law Group PLLC, which serves as bond counsel for lending under this program. James W. (Jim) Young, Jr., Principal and Founder of Young Law Group, and his team strive to find creative, innovative solutions to financing projects while actively seeking ways to streamline the process and reduce transactional costs for the county.
Pontotoc County became the first county to participate in the Small Loan Program when it closed a bond for a road project through a local bank. From adopting a resolution of intent to receiving funds, the process was completed in under three months. The project is discussed in the 2015 September/October issue of the Mississippi Supervisor magazine.
After Hurricane Katrina struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast in August 2005, MAS was inundated with offers of help from the National Association of Counties (NACo) and other states’ county associations. MAS established the Mississippi Association of Supervisors Disaster Relief Fund in September 2005 as a separate nonprofit entity specifically authorized to offer disaster aid to county employees affected by natural or civil disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, ice storms, riots, fires, terrorist attacks or other large-scale disasters.
Applicants for relief must be employed by a county affected by a declared natural or civil disaster and have sustained damage to their home and/or essential home-related personal property with out-of-pocket expenses of at least $1,000. If an application is approved by the committee, relief funds are provided directly to the employee.
The County-to-County Classified listings on the MAS website are a way for counties to advertise to other counties and state agencies. Users list items for sale, “wish list” items, employment opportunities and more.