Parks & Rec ups the ante in search for lifeguards

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sioux Falls Parks & Recreation is upping the ante in its search for lifeguards. Last week KELOLAND News reported on the city’s need for seasonal workers. Now, Parks & Rec is one step closer to offering summer employees more money.

The Sioux Falls City Council has unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance providing the Parks & Recreation Aquatics Program with $250,000 to increase hourly wages.

“The reason why we advanced this supplemental appropriation was that we felt like there was some risk of not being able to get all our pools open by May 28th,” Sioux Falls Parks & Recreation Director Don Kearney said.

Parks & Recreation needs another 50 lifeguards to open the outdoor pools on schedule. Director Don Kearney says the department is flexible when it comes to hours.

“When I first got to Sioux Falls, you literally couldn’t work for us unless you could commit to 40 hours a week. If you couldn’t work 40 hours a week and probably teach lessons in the morning, probably not a candidate for us. Well now, that takes two or three people to fill that same position,” Kearney said.

Lifeguards currently earn $11.50 per hour. That wage would increase to $13.50 with the supplemental funds.

“Wage increases may not be the complete silver bullet for our hiring challenges, it does make us much more competitive as an employer,” Kearney said.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Rick Kiley supports the pay raise, but wonders if it should be even more money.

“There’s probably no other seasonal worker that has greater responsibilities than our lifeguards. Teaching lessons, a lifelong activity, to individuals that don’t know how to swim, teaching them how to swim and looking after and protecting their lives,” Sioux Falls City Council Member Rick Kiley said.

Kearney says the increase is just a start.

“Pretty good lift, as you can see, with the dollar amount we have today, but I know long term we’re working on a plan for the 2022 budget that would further address seasonal wages within parks and rec,” Kearney said.

The second reading of the ordinance is set for Tuesday, April 20th.

Click HERE if you’re interested in seasonal employment with Sioux Falls Parks & Recreation.

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