We endorsed Baker City Manager Mike Kee's proposal to give the city's 16 non-union employees a 1.5-percent cost-of-living raise, the first for that group since 2011.
The City Council disagreed.
The Council did craft a potential compromise, though, and one that could be an improvement over Kee's plan.
Councilors recently voted 6-1, with Mayor Richard Langrell opposed, to give Kee authority to award raises of up to 2 percent to non-union staff who have done well on performance evaluations.
Our support for this idea is not without reservation because it's possible that all of the city's non-union staff will end up with a bigger raise than what Kee initially proposed - 2 percent compared with 1.5 percent.
That would be too generous.
It defies logic to believe that each non-union employee has performed at such a high level to warrant the maximum pay raise possible.
You won't find that sort of unanimous excellence at any organization, public or private.
That caveat aside, we prefer giving raises based on merit rather than a spurious cost-of-living basis.
Ultimately, the Council's decision has put the onus, and rightly so, on Kee.
If he decides to give each non-union employee the full 2-percent raise councilors allotted, then we expect he will explain in some detail, to the public and the Council, why the workers' performance justified the maximum reward.