CINCINNATI — More than half of Cincinnati’s pools will not open this summer if the recreation commission can’t recruit more than 100 new lifeguards.
Monday, CRC director Daniel Betts announced hiring concerns in a presentation to the cities budget and finance committee. The commission is asking for permission to offer $750 bonus incentives for lifeguards that can commit to working this summer.
"We started out this year knowing that it would be a huge stretch to open up 23 pools,” said Betts.
Betts says it typically takes 250 lifeguards to operate all 23 pools across the 52 communities. Right now they have 87 signed up to work, which means only 8 pools will open at the end of the month.
Betts believes wage competition is one of the major challenges in reaching qualified candidates.
“Ultimately if we don’t get smarter about how we are paying people I think it’s going to impact us,” said Betts. “Not just in lifeguard positions but its going to impact us in how we maintain the care of our lawns, our parks, the beautification of the city.”
When CRC requested a competitive wage from city council, they were denied. The current pay ranges between $11.01 to $11.53 an hour.
"I need a lot of people to show interest, I need a lot of people to sign up. And we will do everything humanly possible to process those people through to see if in fact they can swim and pass the certification,” he said.
One option to guarantee more pools open Memorial Day weekend is a ‘Brown Out’ system, in which some pools will close a couple of days out of the week in order to open more pools.
Betts says that will insure at least 12 pools open.
The $750 bonus request will go before the council Wednesday for a vote.