Lifeguard Hourly Pay Confirms Labor Complexities

Lifeguard Hourly Pay Confirms Labor Complexities

A common headache for all governments reconciling budgets this month remains labor complexities and associated expenses.

Recruiting and retaining employees remains a challenge in an uber competitive and desperate marketplace, and governments are balancing the desire to address employment needs with increasing pay requirements and astronomical jumps in health insurance rates in a post-pandemic environment.

In Ocean City, a specific concern to the beach patrol surfaced during budget talks last week. The issue is complex because city officials and beach patrol representatives disagree on whether Ocean City lifeguards are underpaid compared to competing agencies. OCBP Captain Butch Arbin estimates the resort’s guards are paid $1 to $1.50 an hour less than other beach towns. City Manager Terry McGean believes the city’s rate is “adequate” and even higher than some according to his own research.

An Ocean City lifeguard typically works 43.5 hours a week during the season at $18.45 an hour, resulting in a gross weekly pay of $802. Currently for every additional hour beyond the 43.5-hour mark lifeguards get a boosted hourly rate of $18.82/hour. As an overtime bump, the city proposed the hourly rate jump one dollar for any additional hour worked in a week. In an effort to address the post-Labor Day staffing crunch, the city is proposing a $250 bonus if a guard works 80 hours in September.

An effort by Councilman Tony DeLuca to increase the hourly rate by a dime with a higher overtime rate failed due to ripple effect concerns the change may have on other hourly positions with the city staff.

These sorts of management decisions are playing out across all governments these days. Managing the specific requests with needs, wants and wishes is tricky business for elected officials to balance in this current climate. A case-by-case basis seems to be the only approach.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.