Some Austin city lifeguards push for higher pay

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Salaries for lifeguards currently start at $16 an hour, but some have called for a $6 raise to help with the rising cost of living.

AUSTIN, Texas — The city of Austin still needs more than 500 lifeguards to open the city’s 34 swimming pools this summer, and some lifeguards believe that shortage can be solved by raising wages.

The lack of lifeguards has already impacted year-round pools. Since March, Barton Springs was closed on Mondays and Wednesdays due to the shortage while deep swirlThe shallow end of was closed on weekdays for the same reason.

More than 20 pools are scheduled to open June 6, but the city says it expects delays. They currently have around 200 lifeguards on staff and need 750 to operate all the pools.

The current salary for an Austin city lifeguard starts at $16, but that rate can go up to $19. But some rescuers have met with city leaders to urge them to raise the minimum wage to $22.

“Rent in Austin has gone up 30% on average over the past two years,” said Scott Cobb, lifeguard at Barton Springs Pool. “We are struggling paycheck to paycheck.”

Cobb is a part of a group which demands higher wages and more benefits for lifeguards. You can read all their goals here.

Cobb thinks better pay will attract not only more lifeguards, but also more experienced lifeguards.

“They recently lowered the standards for working here in Barton Springs,” Cobb said. “Before you had to be 17, now you can only be 16.”

from Austin Parks and Recreation Department said 16-year-olds can only work in the shallow end of Barton Springs. The department also said it increased pay by $1 this year and lifeguards earned between $16 and $19 an hour in addition to being eligible for bonuses.

“$500 if you start early in the summer, $500 more if you finish the summer, and $250 more if you get an additional advanced lifeguard certification,” said Jodi Jay, assistant director of the parks department. and Recreation of the City of Austin. .

Jay said she thinks their rates are competitive with surrounding areas.

Round Rock lifeguard pay ranges from $16 to $17 per hour. In Dallas, it’s just under $16. In San Antonio, it’s just over $12. In Georgetown, it’s between $10.50 and $16.50. Typhoon Texas pays $11 per hour.

Delays are expected for some of the more than 20 pools in the city of Austin slated to open June 6, but lifeguards and swimmers are hopeful the city can soon restore operations.

The group of lifeguards met with various members of the Austin City Council, including Vanessa Fuentes.

Fuentes sent KVUE the following statement:

“Despite the council’s recent efforts, we are still facing a shortage of lifeguards in the city of Austin. As of May 12, 2022, the city of Austin has trained and hired 196 lifeguards. We would need approximately 550 additional lifeguards to operate all of our pools on a similar schedule to 2019. We must work to continue to increase salaries and benefits for lifeguards to fill the gaps and keep our pools running smoothly. safety in our city.

You can apply to be an Austin city lifeguard here.

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