Los Angeles County spends millions paying exorbitant salaries to taxpayer-funded lifeguards

The upper echelon of LA lifeguards have been making corporate range salaries, on the taxpayer dime

Updated: April 3, 2021 - 11:37pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The Golden Horseshoe is a weekly designation from Just the News intended to highlight egregious examples of wasteful taxpayer spending by the government. The award is named for the horseshoe-shaped toilet seats for military airplanes that cost the Pentagon a whopping $640 each back in the 1980s.

This week, our award is going to Los Angeles County government in California for paying exceedingly high salaries to hundreds of city lifeguards, costing L.A. taxpayers ten of millions of dollars.

The Cabinet Secretaries of the United States of America each earn a salary around $200,000 per year. The top 15 lifeguards in L.A., however, earn closer to $300,000 per year – and some are paid almost $400,000.

A new report from OpenTheBooks.com, profiles the highest earning members of the Los Angeles lifeguard brigade throughout fiscal 2019. A man with the title of “Assistant Chief Lifeguard” made a taxpayer-funded salary of $391,971, including more than $60,000 in non-benefit “perks.”

Next on the list was a “Lifeguard Service Captain” who made just under $370,000, followed by another colleague who was raking in more than $328,000. The report goes on to show another several lifeguards making more than $300,000, and more than 80 more who were being compensated more than $200,000 annually.

Overtime pay was one component of pay that catapulted the salaries of dozens of lifeguards into the corporate range. More than 30 lifeguards made somewhere between $50,000-$130,000 in overtime compensation over the course of the year.

It goes without saying that being a lifeguard can sometimes be a dangerous job, requiring heroic feats and clever rescues. However, Medal of Valor winners – those who exhibited unique bravery while saving lives – barely cracked the upper-echelons of the 1,000-person list.

Another notable element of the report is that is draws a sharp monetary distinction between pool and beach lifeguards. All the top earners and even mid-level earners were part of beach and ocean squads. Of the more than 330 L.A. pool lifeguards, the highest earner on the list made less than $50,000 a year, including benefits.

California is a state where residents (who are fleeing in droves) are already being forced to foot the the $45 billion bill for the 340,000 public employees who earn more than $100,000 annually. The state’s governor – Democrat Gavin Newsom – is in the process of being recalled.

Perhaps it’s time residents of the state’s most populous county begin asking why they’re subsidizing the exorbitant public salaries for so many.