City of Mountlake Terrace offering pay incentives for recreation jobs

The City of Mountlake Terrace is undertaking a new initiative to recruit and retain hourly staff in child care, along with aquatics, athletics, dance, fitness and support services.

This effort combines a state grant with federal dollars, drawing together $396,026 from funds meant to aid in pandemic recovery. The city council signed off on the plan at its July 28 work session.

Starting now through June 2023, eligible employees in these roles will receive a quarterly incentive payment based on hours worked. A full-time worker would earn $3,000, for example, and additional incentives are in place for years of service (up to 10 years). A minimum number of hours must be worked per week to qualify, and temporary and seasonal workers are not included.

COVID has exacerbated the nationwide strain on child care, said Jeff Betz, Recreation and Parks Director. Access to quality child care is vital for parents returning to work. Meanwhile, the demand also is growing for lifeguarding, swim lessons and other recreation services as we emerge from pandemic restrictions. Yet in the current job market, the wages and necessary training for these positions can make hiring a challenge.

The city’s initiative extends the same earning opportunity to hourly staff across aquatics, athletics, child care, dance, fitness and support services. This action creates a uniform policy for all Recreation staff, as a large number of people might otherwise seek to move to the grant-funded programs, creating a chain reaction of vacancies.

Funding primarily comes from the state Department of Children, Youth and Families, through a Child Care Stabilization Grant and a Workforce Grant totaling $308,000.

The city will provide support in the form of $88,026 in federal COVID recovery money from the American Rescue Plan Act, known as ARPA. Of the city’s $6 million allotment, the Council has directed some $500,000 toward utility bill assistance in partnership with Volunteers of America Western Washington. Mountlake Terrace, like many cities, is still reviewing how to spend the remaining ARPA funds, including potential partnerships on regional issues.

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