AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Austin Parks and Recreation Department, or PARD, said Tuesday it would offer bonus pay to summer seasonal employees and open all PARD pools by June 12.

In a memo to the City Manager released on Tuesday, PARD director Kimberly McNeeley said summer seasonal employees, which include lifeguards and camp counselors, would be eligible to earn up to an additional $750 throughout the summer.

According to the memo, employees must work a certain number of hours between May 21 and August 12. The payouts are as follows:

  • 200 hours worked = $250 bonus
  • 300 hours worked = $250 bonus
  • 400 hours worked = $250 bonus

PARD also plans to pay for the following:

  • advertising summer positions with an emphasis on lifeguard positions
  • money to pay for uniform costs
  • money to pay for training fees

The memo says PARD launched a marketing and recruitment campaign in March using social media, radio advertisements, city banners, traffic sign messaging and in-person
recruiting events.

PARD said the bonus program would cost between $800,000 and $1,000,000, which is within the limits set by the city council. According to the PARD memo, the department went forward with the plan after calculating the cost of the February winter storm.

All PARD pools are scheduled to open by June 12, according to the memo. To operate all pools, PARD said it needs 850 lifeguards for the summer season.

As of April 7, PARD received 621 applicants for lifeguards, according to the memo. All applicants have been contacted and are in various stages of hiring.

PARD also said it has 278 lifeguards on a ready to work list. It also says it has 13 full-time lifeguards as part of the 2023 Budget, and all 13 full-time lifeguard positions have been on-boarded and are working in a full-time capacity.

PARD also said it wants to hire 275 positions in time for the start of summer camp sessions on June 5. Forty-five have been hired and 85 are in the process of being hired as of April 11.

Last year, only 15 of 34 of the city’s pools opened at the beginning of June, KXAN previously reported. City staff said it was because of lifeguard shortages — an issue seen nationwide.

You can apply to be a City of Austin lifeguard online.