Moscow pool employees could receive financial relief | Local

Hamilton-Lowe Aquatics Center employees who had been hired for the 2020 pool season will potentially receive a small stipend and reimbursement for lifeguard certification from the city of Moscow after many employees were not able to work at the pool and others faced reduced hours because of the modified pool season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sixty-nine employees would each receive a $150 stipend, or $10,350 total. In addition, 26 employees would be compensated $66 each ($1,716 total) for lifeguard recertification and 16 employees would be reimbursed $164.50 ($2,632 total) for lifeguard certification. The total cost to the city, including stipends and reimbursement, would be $14,698.

“It’s not going to make up for the summer but at least show that we do care and help out a little bit,” Moscow Parks and Recreation Director Dwight Curtis told the Moscow City Council Public Works/Finance Committee Monday.

The committee was supportive of the proposal and the full council will consider it at Monday’s council meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

Because of coronavirus concerns, the council opted to have a modified pool season — July 22 to Sept. 4 — in which the lap pool was the only pool open to the public at the HLAC.

While some employees were able to work reduced hours, others waited through a considerable portion of the summer to find out they would not get to work at the pool because of the partial opening and, thus, were not able to find another job.

“We wanted to try to help make up for that,” Curtis said. “These are possible future employees. A lot of them will be back again next year and some of them for several more years.”

City Supervisor Gary Riedner said the nearly $15,000 would be the maximum amount and it is possible that some of the cost could be covered by the $1.6 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds that the city is expected to accept.

“I think it’s a good move to try and provide some appreciation to these employees who essentially gave up their search for other employment on the promise that we were going to open up,” Riedner said. “And of course, by not opening up, it prevented them from working.”

The committee also reviewed proposed fee amendments for fiscal 2021, which starts Oct. 1, and forwarded them to the city council for a public hearing.

One of the amendments is more than doubling the cost of downtown parking permits at the City Hall, Jackson Street and Jefferson Street parking lots. The proposed permit increases include $25 per month (up from $12), $65 per quarter (up from $30) and $180 annual (up from $85).

The proposal is to increase annual parking permit fees downtown from $85 to $365, or $93.33 per year, in a three-year phased approach. The monthly and quarterly rates would increase proportionately with the yearly spike.

The city sells about 155 permits per year and there was a waiting list of 81 applicants who wished to buy a permit as of last month.

Councilor Brandy Sullivan said at a Public Works/Finance Committee meeting last month that the demand for permits far outstrips the supply, so a price adjustment is appropriate. Councilor Art Bettge said at the same meeting that the permit prices are undervalued given the University of Idaho parking prices.

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