The City Council last week approved changes to the city’s employee classification plans, establishing three positions and their pay grades.
The vote was 4-1. District Two Councilman Thomas Moore cast the dissenting vote.
Moore indicated he was concerned about the large percentage increase in pay for the recreation specialist job, which he put at 37%. The city manager argued the pay was a good deal for the city.
The recreation job would get $4,545.12 to $5,524.63, according to the staff report.
Moore asked why the staff hadn’t used the city’s consultant to look at what other cities pay.
City Manager Jill Ingram said it was her job to see that positions are properly classified and compensated.
The city currently had three recreation coordinators working full time hours, according to both Ingram and the staff report.
She said the recreation specialist position has been used for a number of years in as a part-time position.
“They’ve actually been working as part-time recreation coordinators, which is currently a full time position in our full-time pay structure,” she said.
She said as she had discussed with each of the council members, she strongly felt that this converting these part time positions to full time was appropriate.
She recommended establishing the positions as grade 8 pay.
“Grade 8 is the lowest paid position in our city,” she said.
“Those three positions oversee several of our programs,” Ingram said.
She said city staff felt strongly that the recreation specialist position had been appropriately classified.
Ingram said the three recreation coordinators currently working for the city had been working 40-plus hours per week.
Moore said he understood they were getting a significant “bump” in pay because they were becoming permanent employees. “I hadn’t realized it was 37%, that a resident pointed out,” Moore said.
“Can’t we create a lower-step grade for a new job classification so they’ll get a nice increase, yet not 37%?” Moore asked.
Ingram said: “Quite honestly, the council has the prerogative to do what you want to do.”
According to Ingram, staff felt that grade 8 was the most appropriate grade for the recreation position.
“I would encourage you, instead of looking at a percentage increase, to think about ensuring that your staff—both part-time and full-time—are properly classified and compensated based upon the responsibilities that are required of each position,” Ingram said.
She said one position is vacant now because the city had a part-time employee who earned a bachelor’s degree and was able to get a full-time position with another agency.
Ingram said staff hopes to retain the employees that they have.
She argued that Seal Beach was getting a good deal at the pay scale to have someone with a bachelor’s degree and relevant recreation experience.
Moore asked about pension benefits over the next few years.
Finance Director Kelly Telford said that the two current employees would be in PEPRA positions. (This was apparently a reference to the California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013.) Telford asked the council to look at the issue in context.
“While the 30-plus percent seems like a large number, the hourly rate for these positions is $26 an hour, on the low end,” Telford said.
The other positions created are for a financial analyst and an office assistant and a recreation specialist.
Telford said the office specialist position pay ranged from $17 to $21 an hour.
Telford argued that the pay for the recreation specialist was not a large dollar increase, it was just a large percentage increase because the dollars were so low.
District Three Councilman Michael Varipapa said he had had the luxury of going to the Tennis Center a lot lately and had observed the work being done over there. “As hard as the employees are working, that I see, there is a need for additional help,” he said.
Varipapa said he thinks the compensation justifies the work that they do.
Varipapa argued that it was important for Seal Beach to catch up to what other cities had been doing.
He said the other cities were “staffed correctly” and it was high time Seal Beach did the same.
He said the council should move forward with the staff recommendation.
Telford told the council that the 2021-22 budget included two positions that don’t currently exist in the classification plan.
Those positions were the financial analyst plan in the Regular Employees Classification Plan and the office assistant in the Part-Time Employees Classification Plan.
“In addition, Recreation and Community Services has traditionally operated utilizing three part-time Recreation Coordinator staff members,” Telford wrote in her staff report to the council.
“Though represented as part-time, these positions have been budgeted and assigned regular 40-hour work weeks over the past few years,” Telford wrote.
“The primary duties performed by these three positions include site supervision of the Seal Beach Tennis and Pickleball Center, contract class supervision, adult sports coordination, program administration, facility supervision, and general daily office duties,” Telford wrote.
In her verbal report to the council, Telford described the recreation specialist’s job as day-to-day supervision of the tennis Center as well as supervision of rentals and the senior meals program among others.
She told the council the city was considering other recreation programs.
“As a part of the Fiscal Year 2021-22 Adopted Budget, these positions were moved from the part-time employee budget to the full-time employee budget to reflect their proper classification. As such, the Regular Employees Classification Plan requires amending to reflect this change,” Telford wrote.