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Lifeguard cuts a symptom of budget woes

April 22, 2010
Daily Press

The city of Gladstone is not alone in the world of budget woes. All public entities are facing budget problems to some degree and cutting service provided to the public.

One recent budget cut may have been felt more keenly than others simply because it is a very widely used and loved recreation opportunity Gladstone provides to its citizens.

The Gladstone beach will not be staffed by lifeguards this summer. Initially, $20,000 was set aside to hire six lifeguards over the summer months. However, when more than $100,000 in retiree health insurance costs was added to the preliminary budget, it put the general fund $80,000 in the red. That required some additional cuts. The Gladstone beach lifeguards were one of them.

This cut impacted everyone who uses the beach - residents and visitors alike. Will the beach be a less safer place without lifeguards on duty? Without a doubt. Trained lifeguards are pivotal in providing a safe swimming area. Parents who may have let their children go to the beach on their own will not have that option. Everyone who uses the beach will have to be more conscious of safety because lifeguards will not be there as a safeguard.

This may frustrate or anger some residents. The city of Gladstone, however, really isn't to blame. These are tough times and Gladstone has probably had more than its share of budget and funding problems. The fact is, there is only so much money to go around. When the funding isn't there, services have to be cut. Nothing is free.

Lifeguard service is a very important. We are sure the Gladstone City Commission did not find it easy or relish cutting the lifeguard funding. Voters elect commissioners to be caretakers of the city. Sometimes those caretakers have to make some very difficult decisions for the overall well-being of the community. Cutting services is tough, but if the money isn't there, it has to be done.

On the brighter side, the beach will remain open for everyone to enjoy. Users of the beach, however, will have to be vigilant and make safety their number one priority. People using the beach will have to take responsibility for their own safety.



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