Palm Beach County: let’s do more for lifeguards

092516-pbc-lifeguards-3Palm Beach County Commissioners told county lifeguards Tuesday they still can’t stand with them on a “special risk” category for better benefits. But the county said it would help them to try to get the rules changed in Tallahassee. And maybe give them a raise.

For decades, lifeguards have tried to get the state-permitted classification, which would nearly double the amount of their Florida Retirement System pensions and would allow them to retire earlier.

They made their case at a Sept. 13 County Commission meeting, started a petition campaign and argued again at Tuesday’s meeting.

If the county concurred with the lifeguards, it would have to make EMT certification mandatory for all of them, including the 35 of the 94 lifeguards who aren’t certified, Assistant County Administrator Nancy Bolton told commissioners Tuesday. She said that would cost about $511,000 a year.

“We do not believe we have a legal basis” to back the lifeguards’ attempts, Bolton said.

She said the proper solution would instead by state legislation, and, if commissioners so directed, her staff would push for it.

The commission directed staff to research that, and changing lifeguards’ job description to avoid complications, and giving lifeguards raises.

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