Duck Town Council approves lifeguard contract

Published 1:02 pm Monday, January 8, 2024

In stark contrast with concerns a 1 p.m. meeting time would curb attendance, almost two dozen people crowded into Paul F. Keller Meeting Hall for the January 3 Duck Town Council meeting.

After a traditional meeting opening, council returned to a discussion on a surf rescue services contract initiated in December.

As the end of a five-year contract with Sandski, LLC for lifeguard services in Duck draws near, Duck Surf Rescue director Mirek Dabrowski was at the December meeting with a request to exercise a one-year extension. The contract has an option for two extension periods. Dabrowski explained in December that he needed an early decision in order to recruit enough qualified lifeguards for the summer season. However, due to rising labor costs and increased insurance rates, he also needed more money.

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While council was prepared to approve a contract extension at the December meeting, the discussion on a final price for services was delayed until the Wednesday meeting.

Dabrowski presented some coverage options and displayed details for equipment needed and coverage stations. He explained that the current contract price as amended for fiscal year 2023-24 is $626,000. His preferred coverage option would provide the same level of coverage currently in place during the first extension period for a total of $760,000. Other options each had some reduction in hours, locations, supervision or some other service.

Dabrowski went on to say at times he struggles to keep up with the competition from other agencies and that if Duck wanted to see any savings there would have to be a reduction in services. He explained also that he was floored by the jump in insurance rates and that he is working on alternatives.

After a thorough discussion, council agreed to a contract extension at the same level of service for the requested $760,000.

Equally detailed was a discussion on an ordinance defining and regulating businesses and registration.

When Town Council adopted a revision to its beach and dune management regulations, a discussion followed about establishing a business license registration requirement. That led to a proposed ordinance to permit and register commercial beach equipment vendors under a new Business Registration Chapter 111.

During a discussion and minor debate on what the registration fee should be, or if one was needed, council considered a couple of motions with fees and refundable deposits of different amounts. Enforcement was a major concern throughout the discussion.

Eventually, council settled on a $500 registration fee with a $500 deposit to be used for penalty violations. Town staff will determine a violation fee scale to be part of the Duck fee schedule included in the annual budget.

Other business items for the afternoon included approving a $45,000 budget amendment to cover repairs to the town-owned 145 Buffell Head Road rental property.

Council also heard from three applicants – Miriam Rollin, Bob Webb and Thomas Burton – seeking to fill councilmember Brenda Chasen’s unexpired term on the Planning Board. Webb received the majority of votes and will serve on the Planning Board until May 1, 2026.

Filling the unexpired Board of Adjustment vacancy created when Kevin Lingard was elected to fill a council seat hit a snag when it was discovered Webb, currently an alternate and only applicant, had just been voted onto the Planning Board. Council decided since there were now two vacancies another advertisement was in order.

During public comments, council heard emails read by town clerk Lori Ackerman from almost half the oceanfront property owners on Mantoac Court at the east end of Poteskeet Drive that beach erosion there is eating away at the beach and needs immediate action.

During councilmember comments it was agreed that beach erosion needs to be discussed.

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