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The Missoula Valley in November of 2016.

Missoula County is considering undertaking a wage survey to compare its employees' compensation with that of similar communities in the region.

Chief Operating Officer Chris Lounsbury brought the proposal to the county commissioners Thursday, telling them the issue of salary parity is something that's brought to the bargaining table fairly often, especially with entry-level wages that he's being told have slipped behind similar positions in both public and private sectors.

"We haven't done one in a long time," Lounsbury said.

It's difficult to do an "apples to apples" comparison, because the job duties may not exactly line up. However, Lounsbury said the county could contract with a company and pick select positions across the organization for them to compare to similar communities in Montana, Idaho and the Dakotas.

"They would come back with what I believe is the market rate and inflationary costs," he said.

The commission agreed that Lounsbury should put together a request for proposals, and find out what the cost of the survey would be for the county.

Commissioner Cola Rowley brought a copy of a salary survey done by an organization that showed what maximum and minimum salaries are for certain positions, as well as wages that were "outliers" for the position.

"I like the idea that we gauge where we are," she said.

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