According to a Mississippi Independent survey of contract records, employees at the Mississippi Attorney General's office are sweating off pounds on the taxpayer dole.
Employees at the AG's office receive taxpayer-funded gym memberships at several Jackson-area fitness centers and received weight-loss assistance from Weight Watchers that have cost taxpayers $286,704 since 2011.
The contracts are:
Mississippi Baptist Medical Center received its first gym membership contract for $12,960 in 2014, increased to a maximum contract of $25,920 to cover two fiscal years in 2015 and 2016 and was extended again to an end date of June 30.
First Baptist of Jackson earned its first contract in 2012 and the contract was renewed in 2013, 2014 and 2015. It was renewed lastly in 2016 and increased to a maximum of $25,920 over two years.
The Courthouse received a contract in 2013 for $12,960 and renewed in 2014 and again in 2015 for the same amount. In 2016, the contract was renewed for a maximum of $25,960 over two years.
The Club received its first contract, for $12,960 in 2012. It was renewed for the same amount in 2013 and 2014. It was increased to a maximum of $25,920 in 2015 that would cover two years of services.
YMCAs of Jackson received its first $12,960 contract in 2012 and it was renewed in 2013, 2014, 2015 and in 2016.
Weight Watchers received a $16,000 contract for "weight loss services and programs for eating right and living healthy," starting in 2011, renewed in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. It was increased to $25,000 in 2016 and upped to $32,144 for 2017. It also received a $7,200 contract in 2017 for similar services.
The Attorney General's office isn't the only state agency with gym memberships paid for by taxpayers. The Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi (PERS) — which manages the state’s defined-benefit pension system for state and local employees — has spent $114,000 during the last three years for gym memberships for its employees.