HANSON — Selectmen voted Tuesday, July 19 to raise the pay for seasonal Recreation Commission employees at Camp Kiwanee and Cranberry Cove by $1 per hour during a Wage & Personnel Board meeting prior to the board’s meeting.
The raise brings entry-level gate attendants to 50 cents above the state minimum wage of $10 per hour. They had been earning $9.50 per hour.
Camp Kiwanee caretakers earning less than minimum wage were also raised to the $10 minimum rate. Selectmen said the commission should confer with the town administrator regarding future requests for caretaker raises.
Three members of the Recreation Commission — Susan Lonergan, James Hickey and Francis O’Kane — attended the meeting, but Hickey and O’Kane did not take part in the discussion, except to ask a few questions to selectmen through Lonergan, because their daughters work as Cranberry Cove lifeguards.
The raises increase the pay of lifeguards, water safety instructors and beach directors as well as caretakers. The allowable salary range runs from minimum wage to $18 per hour.
Lifeguards were earning between $11 and $13.50 per hour, depending on experience, with WSIs earning $13.50 and the beach director $16. All will receive a $1 an hour raise retroactive to July 1.
Lonergan noted youth employees at Cranberry Cove typically start out as gate attendants and, when they earn certifications as lifeguards, WSIs and, ultimately beach directors, salary rates go up. Hanson residents receive preference in the application process, she said.
“There was some discussion that you would offer them 2 percent and we would like to talk about a $1 an hour raise across the board,” Lonergan said. “I think it’s a way to thank them for coming back and being loyal employees and representing the town of Hanson well.”
Wage & Personnel Chairman Selectman Kenny Mitchell expressed concern that a $1 raise would not be fair as all other town employees received a 2-percent across-the-board increase. A 2-percent raise on an $11 per hour pay rate is just over 18 cents. The raises will cost $2,400 for the season, with hours reduced after swimming lessons end next month.
“People who are under minimum wage should be brought up to minimum wage, at least,” Mitchell said. “As far as raises, I think we have to be consistent with every other town employee.”
Town Administrator Michael McCue agreed, saying it was not a question of dollars, but of fairness to other town employees.
Selectman Bruce Young pointed out that, as part-time, seasonal employees, the Recreation Commission employees at the beach are not comparable to other town employees.
“I see these as an exceptional type of position,” Young said. “They are strictly seasonal positions. … Their hours are limited, they don’t get any benefits, they make an hourly wage and pay taxes on it. They’re kids trying to earn extra income during the summer, so I don’t equate them with full-time employees who get benefits.”
Town employees receive group insurance and pension benefits as well as salaries, he said.
“These are hard-working kids, dedicated kids who take care of their certifications,” Young said. “I don’t have any problem giving them more than the 2 percent.”
Selectmen Chairman James McGahan agreed as did Selectman Don Howard. In the end, all five approved it.
Lonergan also noted that lifeguards must pay $350 for course work to keep current with certifications out of pocket and that they return to work there year after year. Only gate attendants are new employees.
Selectman Bill Scott had suggested the commission might also consider footing the bill for certification fees, but Lonergan said that was something that has always been required as part of the application process. However, at the suggestion of the Fire Department, the Recreation Commission is paying for waterfront certifications for lifeguards.
“[That] isn’t part of their Red Cross certification anymore, it’s just a pool kind of thing,” she said.
Last year there were 115 beach passes sold. This year there are 117, with lesson signups up 120 percent, according to Lonergan. Seasonal employee salaries are paid through proceeds from passes and lessons, not through town taxes.
Last June, the commission made $8,225 with $12,839 this June — an increase of 56 percent.
At McCue’s urging, selectmen also voted to bring two Council on Aging employees up to minimum wage who are now paid below that level, with Young casting a reluctant vote for it because he was not certain the board was permitted to do so at this time.
Scott advocated paying seniors working through the tax abatement program at minimum wage. McCue said it was possible, but the program caps how much can be paid them so it might affect the total numbers of hours they may work.