By Rick Palsgrove
Filling lifeguard positions in Groveport has been a difficult task.
“Hiring lifeguards, and other aquatics staff for our recreation center and aquatic center, continues to be a challenge,” said Groveport City Administrator B.J. King.
City officials have found it more difficult to recruit new lifeguards as other area aquatic centers tend to offer higher pay ranges. The city is also competing with businesses, such as fast food restaurants, who pay more and tend to hire away young workers who might have become lifeguards.
King said the feedback city officials have received indicates that the starting pay rate for the city’s lifeguards “is not competitive with industry standards.”
Recruitment efforts at area high schools have been met with statements that the city’s low starting wage is a factor for the lack of interest.
According to city officials, lifeguard starting pay rates at other swimming facilities in the area range from a high of $18 per hour to a low of $11 per hour with the average being around $13.81 per hour. The starting per hour pay rate to be a city of Groveport lifeguard is $11 per hour. Locally, only Groveport and Lancaster pay the $11 per hour starting rate.
“We train people to be lifeguards and then they go elsewhere for more pay,” said King. “We need to keep them.”
In an effort to make the lifeguard job more attractive, Groveport City Council approved the following reclassification and starting pay rate changes for four positions:
•Group Swim Instructor: raise the pay grade from 2 to 6 increasing the starting per hour pay rate from $10.10 per hour to $14.91.
•Lifeguard: raise the pay grade from 3 to 6 increasing the starting per hour pay rate from $11 per hour to $14.91.
•Head Lifeguard: raise the pay grade from 4 to 7 increasing the starting per hour pay rate from $12.29 per hour to $16.21.
•Aquatics Supervisor: raise the pay grade from 6 to 8 increasing the starting per hour pay rate from $14.91 per hour to $17.50.
According to King, the lifeguard pay was last raised in 2019 and the head lifeguard pay was last raised in 2021.
“These changes will result in a budget increase of $54,383,” said King, who added the pay increases should make the city more competitive and keep the pools fully staffed.
King said, ideally, the city needs 75 lifeguards for the summer to ensure there are enough staff to cover the indoor and outdoor pools and between 30 to 40 lifeguards for year round at the city’s indoor pool.
Founders Bend Park
Representatives from the Founders Bend Homeowners Association came to council’s March 27 meeting to express their opposition to a proposal to build a shelterhouse in Founders Bend Park.
They cited the lack of available parking, general resident opposition, and that the park and its playground are little used. They suggested instead that city officials use the money budgeted for the shelterhouse to make improvements – such as constructing a shelterhouse, restrooms, or a playground – at nearby Cruiser Park because that park is more heavily used.
“Invest the resources in Cruiser Park where it will help and better serve the whole community,” said Founders Bend HOA President Patricia Thacker.
The idea for the shelterhouse originally came from Founders Bend resident James Chilton, who likes that Founders Bend Park is a walkable distance for the neighborhood and that kids do use the playground.
“I think a shelterhouse there would be nice,” said Chilton.
King said the money for the shelterhouse is in the city’s budget, but that city officials will wait for the results of the Founders Bend Homeowners Association vote on the issue before taking any further action.