BILLINGS, Mont. - The Billings YMCA had to reduce pool hours this summer due to a staff shortage. And, the Laurel Municipal Pool had to close this summer due to the staff shortage.
CEO of the Billings YMCA Kim Kaiser said it's been challenging to find staff to work evenings and weekends, leading to reduced hours. The entire facility is now closed on Sundays. The pool is closed on Saturdays as well.
Kaiser said the YMCA pool was open seven days a week back in 2019.
"I'm not quite sure where all of the people went," Kaiser said.
"We're just not getting the applications in to fill positions we have open right now," she added.
The staff shortage is affecting more than just the pool. Child watch hours have been reduced and staff members have been doing things outside of their usual job descriptions.
Kaiser said the weekend cleaning crew was so short staffed a few months ago, the entire management team took weekend shifts for a few weeks to clean the building. The aquatics coordinator kept a gardening glove on her desk to pull weeds coming into work.
And, the staff shortage has affected more than the Billings YMCA.
The Billings YMCA typically contracts with the City of Laurel to staff the Laurel Municipal Pool. This year, Kaiser said they were unable to do that.
"We saw the shortage of staff just getting worse and worse," Kaiser said. "And, as I just stated, we can't even keep our pools open. So, we informed the City of Laurel that there was no way we were going to be able to staff that pool."
"I was really surprised when they said that they weren't going to be able to provide us with a contract," Laurel Mayor Tom Nelson said. "They just didn't have the staffing. I guess, things like that, that's when it really hits home."