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Council sets wage comparison criteria

Superior’s City Council set the stage to determine fair and equitable wages for the city’s rank-and-file staff. 

During a special meeting Tuesday, the Council approved a list of communities through which Carlson-Dettman will determine how Superior’s wages align with others in the labor market.

Among the communities selected are those the city’s unions had negotiated as comparable to Superior historically — La Crosse, Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Wausau, Beloit, Manitowoc, Stevens Point and Marshfield. In addition, the council accepted the recommendation made by Charles Carlson to include Oshkosh, Eau Claire, Janesville, West Bend, Sun Prairie, Fitchburg, De Pere, Watertown, Wisconsin Rapids, Duluth and St. Louis and Douglas counties to strengthen the sample. The sample will include comparable positions in the Superior school district, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College and University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Councilor Dennis Dalbec also suggested including all 10 counties of northern Wisconsin, a recommendation accepted by the council.

“In our business, we like to have larger samples than nine,” Carlson told the Council on Tuesday evening. “The reason is in some communities they might not have positions that are comparable.”

Throwing out a broad net now is preferred to get a representative sample, he said. With a smaller sample size, he said one organization could skew the results.

Carlson said he looked at population, geography, adjusted gross income and equalized property valuations to develop the list presented to the council.

“We’re suggesting that we look at both private and public sector data,” Carlson said. “I’m not sure yet how we want to weight that data, but we should get the results from both surveys, then you make the call.”

Councilor Dan Olson, who opposed the $30,000 contract to do the wage study, questioned whether the broad scope of the study would cost the city more.

Carlson said the costs are all inclusive unless the council scraps the data collected and determines that different communities should be considered, changing the scope of the project at a later date.

The goal is to complete the study before the city adopts its 2015 budget.