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Lifeguard Contract Vote Delayed


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By Jorge Casuso

March 26, 2024 -- A one-year extension to a contract with LA County for lifeguard services was pushed back two weeks after Tuesday's City Council meeting was canceled due to a lack of a quorum.

The one-year extension for $3,962,000 million would bring the contract to a new total amount of $47.5 million under a 16-year amended agreement, according to staff's report to the Council.

The County has agreed to the extension "while it conducts a Fee for Service study to determine whether future fee adjustments are necessary to perform the required level of service," staff wrote.

A 2022 report by the nonprofit watchdog “Open the Books,” found that 98 LA County lifeguards earned at least $200,000 including benefits in 2021, and 20 made between $300,000 and $510,283.

The salaries were bloated by large overtime pay, in large part due to staffing shortages when many lifeguards failed to return after the coronavirus shutdown.

The City has contracted with the County since 1974 to provide lifeguard services, which include coverage of Santa Monica Beach seven days a week year-round.

It also includes 24-hour a day emergency response for regional emergencies and round-the clock paramedic support to the community, staff said.

"The County is often the first responder to emergencies on the beach, in the water, and near the Pier," staff wrote in recommending approval of the one-year extension.

Under the contract the County provides a staff that includes two captains, 19 ocean lifeguards, and lifeguard specialists, according to staff.

It also includes emergency response vehicles, a rescue boat and a helicopter.

The ten-year contract approved in March 2009 was extended in 2019 for an additional five years, staff said. Under the one-year extension the annual payment formula will remain the same.

The current payment formula is "comprised of a base payment for County lifeguard personnel, subject to annual CPI increases, plus County’s overhead costs," according to staff.

"Over the 15-year term, payments under the current contract formula have increased an average of five percent per year," staff said.

For the third straight year, the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation is facing a shortage of lifeguards at public pools and County lakes, Countty officials have said.

The County has increased wages for those lifeguards by 20 percent and launched a recruiting drive.

Once the County conducts its fee study, staff will return to the Council with the results and a recommendation for continuing lifeguard services.

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