OTTAWA — Foregoing the usual end-of-year doldrums at council meetings, members of the Ottawa Village Council returned to a bone of contention for one councilor: the question of what constitutes fair wages.

As part of its agenda, council was called on to authorize the purchase of medical, dental, vision, and life insurance for village employees. Council also addressed a proposed salary distribution schedule for village employees for 2019. The items were a call-to-arms for Councilor Jeff Ducey, who read a prepared statement questioning the veracity and method of a study conducted last year that asserted village employees were underpaid.

Ducey expressed, in part, issues with the Archer Company’s wage analysis, citing concerns about some comparisons with significantly larger municipalities and what he considered a failure to take benefits — and particularly benefit co-pay amounts — into account.

“This has been contentious with me since I came on this council, and will continue to be,” Ducey said after reading his statement, a full accounting of which appears on Page 5 of this issue of the Sentinel.

Council President David Michel, who also served on the personnel committee requisitioning the study, responded.

“We not only looked at comparable sizes,” Michel said, referencing Ducey’s concerns about comparisons with the Cities of Lima and Findlay, “we looked at who we’re competing against for licensed operators and such. So that’s some of the reason whey you see Lima and Findlay in there. It’s not comparable size, but it’s who we’re competing against for licensed operators in the job market.”

“Well, I guess, then, does Whirlpool, when they have an engineer’s position, do they compare versus Google or Apple or any of the other employees?” Ducey asked.

“No,” Michel responded. “But they probably look at the employers in Lima and Findlay, because that’s who they’re competing against.”

Michel then stated the increases proposed for 2019 would get village employees to 93 percent of the rate the Archer study deemed fair.

“They’re not at 100 percent yet,” Michel said. “We knew we couldn’t afford that hit all at one time. So we took that and spread it over the next two-and-a-half years.”

When voting on the measures, council approved both issues unanimously, with the exception of Ducey, who, unsurprisingly, voted not.

The next regular meeting of the Ottawa Village Council is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 14, at 8 p.m. in the village offices.