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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Lifeguard Overtime Pay Excessive, Audit Finds

March 01, 2000

LOS ANGELES COUNTY — Taxpayers could have saved up to $172,668 in overtime pay last year if beach lifeguard towers had been staffed using larger numbers of temporary, or "recurrent," lifeguards, an audit has found.

"Spending for lifeguard overtime is excessive because higher-paid permanent lifeguards are working the overtime rather than the less-expensive temporary [recurrent] lifeguards," said an auditor-controller report issued Tuesday.

The Fire Department, which oversees lifeguards, said it increased the use of permanent guards because they generally are better trained and more readily available than the temporary guards.

But the department agreed that steps could be taken to reduce the amount of overtime paid without jeopardizing public safety. Temporary guards had said they couldn't get work while permanent guards made up to $400 a day.

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