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City to hike aquatics pay due to minimum wage

The minimum wage hike in California is causing the city of Ceres to increase the pay of certified part-time lifeguards and a flat rate of pay for all aquatics positions.

The city operates a summer aquatics program at the Ceres High School pool.

City Manager Toby Wells said the Jan. 1 minimum wage increase has created a situation where certified lifeguards are starting at wages similar to those of uncertified staff members, such as recreation leaders and Ceres High pool site monitors. In a memo to the City Council he reported: "Given that our seasonal aquatics staff are required to obtain and maintain expensive certifications in order to hold their positions, it is important to compensate them accordingly."

Wells also said Ceres has tried to pay aquatics positions competitively to make employment with the city "as equally attractive as our surrounding cities."

The City Council approved a suggestion of doing away with the salary step schedule since seasonal positions do not require advancement through steps like in regular positions with the city. Given that the aquatics program runs for eight weeks and some employees may or may not return in future seasons, the city decided to just make a flat rate of pay.

A pool manager will make $14 per hour starting in June, an assistant pool manager $13 per hour while a swim instructor will be paid $12/hour and a lifeguard $11 per hour.

In 2017 the rate of pay will climb a quarter per hour and in 2018 another 25 cents per hour.

The old system of steps A through E had the pool manager starting out at $11.38 per hour at the lowest step and $13.83/hour for the top step. Likewise, step A for the assistant pool manager was $10.81 with step E at $13.14. Step A for swim instructors was $10.71 and goes to step E level of pay of $13.03/hr. Lifeguard pay at step A was $10/hour up to $12.15 for step E.

The salary increases are expected to cost the city an additional $788 for the season but gross revenues are expected to increase from $37,779 to $39,000.

Wells said the pay increases can be supported by program revenues. The city netted $9,185 in revenues in 2015.

Ceres' new rates are closely modeled after Turlock's aquatics program pay.