Glenwood Springs Approves Parks and Rec’s Request to Add More Full-Time Staff and Increase Salaries
Glenwood Springs City Council voted 7-0 to increase the wages of part-time lifeguards and maintenance workers to $ 16 an hour and add two full-time lifeguard positions and two full-time positions in the parks.
The approved motion also included the granting of signing bonuses to encourage recruitment and retention.
The changes would cost a total of $ 352,330, which would be offset by a 33% increase in park shelter rental fees, $ 200 million in unallocated stimulus funds and the reallocation of funds already in the parks budget. and recreation, according to Parks and Recreation Director Brian Smith.
Smith said the department is currently drowning in workload due to severe understaffing.
“When we closed and laid off 118 employees, we effectively wiped out everything we had built in the past 20 years. When reopening, only 13 staff returned, ”Smith said during the presentation.
The ministry currently has 14 posted positions. There are still 16 positions to fill which are not currently posted.
“In some cases people only stay for a few weeks. Staff are poached by other agencies, ”Smith’s presentation said. “As a public body, we are unable to compete with private for-profit companies. “
The high cost of housing in Glenwood Springs has also been mentioned as the reason the town fails to hire and retain employees at current salaries.
“The cost of living has increased dramatically in our valley, with estimates standing at about 135% of the national average,” Smith said.
“The developers whose attitude and response to the affordable housing discussion is ‘cry me a river’ are doing our community a disservice because these are the residents who are calling me a river every week as I file a complaint. after complaint about the condition of our parks, trails and the availability of recreation programs and facilities. Everything that makes Glenwood Springs so attractive to live and work here is deteriorating without a sustainable workforce. “
Smith said he was responding to complaints from residents about the lack of maintenance along the city’s trails and parks.
A waiting list also has more than 70 names for swimming lessons, Smith added.
The shortage of lifeguards also prevented the recreation center from opening the pool to full capacity.
City manager Debra Figueroa said the department is clearly struggling compared to any other department in the city.
“Because for better or for worse, while we were horribly terrified by the duration of the impacts of COVID, we laid off all of its part-time staff. We haven’t done this to any other department, ”Figueroa said.
Mayor Jonathan Godes said it was imperative for City Council to ensure the Parks and Recreation Department is maintained as it is a valuable asset to all of Glenwood Springs.
“I think if we don’t make that investment then we might as well sell the parks and shut down our parks and recreation department. And that would be crazy because this is the most loved and used public service that we have in the city, ”said Godes.
“If you’ve got a leaking roof, whether you’ve got the money to fix it or put it on a credit card, you’ve got to fix that roof.”
Staff changes would be offset in 2021 and 2022, but Smith said he would bring the budget strategies to fund the cost of adding four full-time staff to the board for review in 2022.
Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or [email protected].