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No Funds Could Mean No Lifeguards at Town Beach

Town Administrator John Klimm says he's working to find funding for lifeguards this season at Sandy Point Beach.

With temperatures warming up and summer just around the corner, many families and residents are looking forward to spending time at the beach. 

But spending time at a beach without lifeguards — that's one thing Town Administrator John Klimm is trying to avoid. 

Klimm, the newly hired town administrator, says he cannot find funding to hire lifeguards at . He said funds won't be available until the start of the new fiscal year, which begins July 1. 

Klimm calls it "a lack of financial planning, oversight and accountability in this account."

"I notified the Council last night (Wednesday) that the entire beach budget was spend last year and that there is nothing in the account," wrote Klimm in a comment on Portsmouth Patch Thursday. "I agree that there clearly was a lack of financial planning, oversight and accountability in this account and that the whole matter is being reviewed. I agree with you that the prospect of not having the beach fully open after Memorial Day is unacceptable and I informed them that I would present them with a plan to make sure that this does not happen."

The town budgeted more than $58,000 last year for Sandy Point Beach's operations.

"The account was overspent," Klimm said. "I don't know what the money was spent on because I wasn't here. All I know is there's no money in the account." 

Sandy Point Beach opens on Memorial Day, which falls on Monday, May 28, this year. If no funding is located, the beach could remain without lifeguards for more than a month. 

The cost to staff the beach with lifeguards is about $4,000 to $5,000, Klimm said. The town works with the Portsmouth Action for Youth group to hire lifeguards every year. 

"The beach would never close; it would just not be staffed by lifeguards," said Klimm. 

Portsmouth Patch users voiced their opinions on this issue Wednesday night. 

: There isn't any funding yet???? it's a 12 month budget....where's the money??? you found money to fix the ball field at Glen Park. What kind of administrator cannot find money to staff a beach with life guards for one month???!!! If this Council would stop spending unbudgeted money on legal fees and lawyers there would be plenty of cash for lifeguards!

There is traditionally no charge for Portsmouth residents to use the beach. 

Out-of-town residents were charged $50 for a season pass last year. This cost remains less than the state's beach parking pass, which doubled in price last year

The town council has not set the cost for beach stickers for this season.

What do you think about this issue? Tell us in the comment section.

Robert E April 26, 2012 at 05:13 PM
The cost to staff the beach with lifeguards is about $4,000 to $5,000 so what did they spend the other $53,000 on. Somebody has to account for this money we don't give the town departments a blank check with no accountabilty there has to be a paper trail on where this money went. We need to hold someone accountable if they are misusing town funds.
Island Porkrunner April 26, 2012 at 05:32 PM
had no idea there were lifeguards here anyway. there isn't even a shore break.
getreal April 26, 2012 at 06:14 PM
This should of never happend in the first place, does the town audit these accounts? Was these funds reallocated in a council shell game? Will the answers to this be made public? Still waiting for open hoverment to start.!
WashaShore April 26, 2012 at 10:01 PM
It may be time to form a Sandy Point Beach Oversight Committee.
Bob Washburn April 27, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Middletown charges its residents $40 for a beach pass. Is there a charge, say $15, that Portsmouth residents could pay for a sticker? Wouldn't a sticker fee increase the perceived value of the beach to our residents?
Robert E April 27, 2012 at 02:59 PM
The point is not the price of the sticker but what did the town do with the money that was budgeted for the beach. Raising more money does not solve the problem if it is being misspent. We want accountabilty not more fees.
Jane Wolk Wheeler April 27, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Time to remove the "newer" members of the town council and vote in some people who really care about what's important for the town. Class size at the high school is going up to 30 since there isn't enough $$$ for more teachers, so maybe some new dropouts who aren't getting the instruction they need will volunteer to save some lives at the beach this summer. Sorry for the cynicism, but I didn't vote for those folks!
TAMORI April 27, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Bob - Our sticker for using the town transfer station doubles as our pass for using the beach. That’s $125. But according to a FAQ on the town website, there is no charge for using Sandy Point because and there is a separate sticker available, at no charge, for residents who want to use the beach but do not have a sticker for the transfer station. But dang…here’s a thought. We ought to move the transfer station to Sandy Point and task the garbage guards with also life guarding the beach.
Phedup April 27, 2012 at 06:05 PM
@Jane- I guess I'd be called a transplant as I have only lived here for three years,but I totally disagree.
Phedup April 27, 2012 at 06:09 PM
When I moved here two of the current members were on the board,one of them wants to have a new Dog Park? I think his name is Keith? Is this the same guy that wants a 1.7 million dollar turf field? Is this what is important to the town???
Phedup April 27, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Jane I'm sorry I have to be cynical also,I guess I shouldn't take Fridays off from work,reading this stuff makes my blood boil. I was cautiously optimistic when some of the newcomers voted in a new administrator. I couldn't beleive the guy Keith asked him to investigate a new Dog Park. The poor man was only an Admin for 2-3 weeks? Really is this what we want him spending our tax money looking into?
Jane Wolk Wheeler April 27, 2012 at 11:02 PM
While I think dog parks are a great idea, I don't believe it's a priority for this town at this time. People used to move here because of the schools. The town councilors more concerned about taxes than education trashed the school budget and now we are looking at classes of 30! And we do not have have exceedingly high taxes when you look at the rates for all the cities and towns in RI.Its how the taxes are spent that matters even more in my opinion.Private school is more expensive than the highest taxes in the state!
Robert E April 27, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Just be glad you weren't here for the Great Mega-Gym debate.
East side April 27, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Mr. gym is still on the PEDC. Did you hear about the land he purchased in sandy point - it's a great story. He purchased the small parcel of land in front of all of the water front property from a little old lady for a bargain. Just look at vision appraisal. Then he offered the property to these folks for 5 times the price. This is the representative we have on our PEDC.

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