Washington County: County commits funding to City of West Bend, KM-YMCA for lifeguard pay

West Bend, Wis. (May 15, 2023): Summer swim season is commencing in Washington County. County Executive Josh Schoemann has committed financial assistance to the City of West Bend and Kettle Moraine YMCA to offset the increased staffing costs related to summer swim opportunities for West Bend/Washington County residents.

“Last summer, when I heard of the staffing challenges communities throughout our county faced to keep swimming amenities open, I shared the same concerns as many of our citizens about the safe recreational opportunities for our kids if places like Regner Pond aren’t able to open,” said County Executive Schoemann. “I am thrilled with the outstanding collaboration between the City of West Bend and Kettle Moraine YMCA to provide these opportunities once again this summer, and am happy the County can help to ease the burden of the rising cost of this important community service for years to come.”

Tonight, the City of West Bend Common Council authorized a resolution to accept funds from Washington County to support the difference in increased lifeguard and beach attendant pay. 2023 projections estimate lifeguard costs of up to $125,695, and beach house attendant costs of $12,815, which is an increase from 2021 levels of $52,817 and $7,120, respectively, resulting from wage increases. Washington County will provide reimbursement funding for the difference in increased pay.

“Thanks to Washington County for financially supporting our increased lifeguard and beach attendant pay,” said Mayor Joel Ongert. “The Regner Park swim pond, splash pad and new beach house are tremendously important to the community! We have a full team of lifeguards ready for opening day on June 10.”

“It is critically important that we continue to recruit and train new staff. Five years ago, the YMCA was part of the coalition to lower the lifeguard age requirement from 16 to 15, which significantly increased the number of high school students eligible.” said Rob Johnson, Kettle Moraine YMCA CEO. “It costs $225 per person for lifeguard training; therefore, we look for partnerships in funding to be able to continue to provide lifeguard training for free and remove the cost barrier for students.”

Earlier this year, the City of West Bend and Kettle Moraine YMCA partnered to provide free American Red Cross Lifeguarding Certification to all lifeguard applicants. Certified lifeguards can work at the Regner Park Beach Pond during the summer and instruct swimming lessons, and/or work anytime throughout the year at the Kettle Moraine YMCA. The City of West Bend is offering Regner Park Beach lifeguards a starting wage of $17.50/hour, plus up to a $500 sign-on bonus and additional retention bonuses based on hours worked. YMCA lifeguards earn up to $16 per hour and a FREE YMCA membership.

The Kettle Moraine YMCA received funds last year to pay retention bonuses for lifeguards who worked at the Y last summer. “I am excited to tell my lifeguard staff that the retention bonus will be paid again this year, so thank you Washington County!” commented Vito Ward, Aquatics Director for the Kettle Moraine YMCA.