May 25, 2023 |

Photo – Saratoga Town Hall – Bigfoot99 file photo

Saratoga Councilwoman Kathy Beck has responded to the mayor about a letter she wrote to the local newspaper about her concerns regarding the town’s recreation department during a time of declining revenues.

Yesterday, Bigfoot99 reported on the public letter in which Councilwoman Beck posted on her social media page. Councilwoman Beck voiced her frustration over the council’s inaction to raise the starting wage for lifeguards. She also implored the community to inform the council that they valued recreation.

Summer is budget time for municipalities in Carbon County. Saratoga is no exception. Despite the previous town council voting for a dollar-an-hour pay raise for lifeguards, the current council has opted not to move forward with the salary increase. Mayor Chuck Davis said the delay was to allow the council to ensure the funds were available for the raises in the upcoming fiscal year. Councilwoman Beck said she understands the town needs to be careful where it spends the year’s budget. However, the councilwoman said without lifeguards the town can’t open the pool.

Councilwoman Beck said her letter was not an attack on her fellow councilmembers. The councilwoman said her post was a call for residents to make their support of the town’s recreation department known.

The town has had trouble attracting qualified lifeguards to work at the pool. Councilwoman Beck said the low wage doesn’t reflect the amount of training people need to become a certified lifeguard.

Councilwoman Beck said people could work at other establishments in town for a higher wage and less responsibility. The councilwoman said the town should raise the lifeguard’s salary to, at least, match what it pays unskilled laborers.

Mayor Davis set aside four essential departments for full funding. The mayor said the police, fire, streets, and water and sewer departments are the core departments necessary to run the town.

Mayor Davis said all other departments would be funded with the leftover budget money. Councilwoman Beck said she supports the mayor’s essentials, but she feels the recreation department is part of what people love about living in Saratoga.

The town council must finalize the budget before the start of the next fiscal year on July 1st. The council is hosting a series of budget meetings to ensure the deadline is met. Councilwoman Beck said now is the right opportunity to discuss additional recreation department funding.

The town has announced a special meeting this Friday, May 26th, to hire more lifeguards for the pool. Councilwoman Beck said the town council needs to act quickly if they want the pool to open this summer.

Councilwoman Beck was adamant that her letter was not meant to demean or diminish her fellow councilmembers. The councilwoman said she feels strongly that the town can find the money in the budget to provide the recreation department with additional funding for the upcoming fiscal year. She said to attract more lifeguard applicants, and encourage current employees to return next season, the town needs to increase their base wage.

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