MARGATE – Lifeguards in Margate will be getting a 1.5-percent increase in their daily rates of pay over the next four years in a new contract the Board of Commissioners approved on Feb. 7.

The contract includes 1.5 percent daily rate increases each year starting 2019 and ending 2022.

A first-year lifeguard will earn $95.05 per day in 2019, up from $93.65 last year. The rate increases 1.5 percent each year until it reaches $99.27 in 2022. The daily rates increase with experience to a high of $183 in 2019 for lifeguards with 18 or more years on the beach patrol, up from $180.30 last year. In 2020, the 18-year rate will increase to $191.34.

Lieutenants, who were paid $200 per day last year, will see their rate increased to $220 per day in 2019 and $225 in 2022.

Language in the contract changed with the addition of a paragraph about the lifeguards’ pension plan, which was first approved in 1987. The language in the new contract states the plan will be monitored by both sides to ensure it remains solvent.

According to city Administrator Richard Deaney, the lifeguards contribute 4 percent of their pay to the pension plan, which they can draw from when they retire. The city contributes 4 percent of the total amount paid to lifeguards each year.

“The city agrees to make employee match contributions and make small occasional periodic supplemental payments if necessary and if annual lifeguard operation appropriations remain otherwise unspent at the end of each calendar year,” the new clause states.

“We put it in the contract to encourage the association to stay current with the status of their pension plan,” Deaney said.

The city appointed a Lifeguard Pension Committee and financial consultant to monitor the pension several years ago, he said. Resident Richard Patterson heads up the committee, Deaney said.

Margate Lifeguard Association President Chuck Gowdy said the membership ratified the contract Wednesday morning.

“We feel it’s a fair deal. Both sides had to give a little,” he said.

Gowdy said the lifeguards are “fortunate” to have the support of the commissioners and the administration. Commissioner John Amodeo and Deaney negotiated the contract on the city’s behalf.

“It’s all about public safety, and we all want to do what’s right for Margate,” Gowdy said.

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.