By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Lester Prairie is making preparations for the upcoming swimming season, but finding staff to work at the city pool has been a challenge.
“We’re hurting,” City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk commented during Tuesday’s city council meeting.
Typically, the city hires nine to 10 lifeguards to cover all the shifts, as well as vacations and time-off requests.
This year, a total of five have applied, plus possibly one part-time person.
Some of those who have applied only want to work limited hours.
Pawelk said, based on the staff that is available, the city probably won’t be able to offer private lessons, family nights, or pool rentals, and will likely have to reduce hours of operation.
The city has used multiple avenues to recruit staff, with limited results.
Pawelk also suggested the city revert to the previous price for pool passes (in March, the council approved increasing the price of season passes from $40 to $50 for the first person and from $30 to $40 for each additional person) because the pool will be open fewer hours.
Despite the potential reduction in revenue, the city will still have maintenance costs associated with the pool.
In February, the city council approved the purchase of an Avalanche water slide for the city pool from Horizon Commercial Pool Supply at a cost of $36,650, to replace the current slide.
The council asked if the wages are a factor in the lack of applications for pool positions.
Pawelk said all pool operators are having trouble recruiting staff, and wages are not the main issue. She noted more students have cars today, and can drive longer distances to get other jobs, such as working in clothing stores.
The current requirements and wages for pool staff are:
Must be 15 years old or older and possess proper certification. Must be able to work afternoons, nights and weekends. Starting pay is $9.50/hour.
• Water safety instructors (WSI):
Must be 15 years old or older and possess proper certification. Must be able to work mornings, afternoons, nights, and weekends. Starting pay is $10.50/hour.
• Assistant pool manager:
Must be 18 years old or older. Must be able to work mornings, afternoons, nights, and weekends. Starting pay is $10/hour.
The council did not take any action on the matter during Tuesday’s meeting.