The City Council did the right thing Tuesday when it approved a 4 percent cost-of-living raise for city employees.
The council did something that smart businesses and organizations do, which is pass on the prosperity -- in this case a general fund surplus --o people who are doing the work.
Had the city not approved the raise, which will show up on 2006 paychecks, it would have essentially asked its employees to do the same work each year for less money.
After all, a cost-of-living wage hike is meant to offset a loss in consumer purchasing power. Consumers can use a little offsetting.
Last month, after a series of Gulf Coast hurricanes pushed prices for gasoline, natural gas and home heating oil to painful levels, inflation of wholesale prices soared to the highest level in more than 15 years.
The inflation rate is 4.69 percent, up from an average of about 3.5 percent for most of the year. In the past 10 years, the rate has ranged from less than 2 percent to nearly 4 percent.
Inflation diminishes the purchasing power of money and drags the economy down.
The City Council's decision to grant pay increases means more than a boost to employee morale. It also lifts the local economy. City employees spend money here.
City employees are luckier than many.
In 2005, employees received a 3 percent pay increase. The year before, they received a 4 percent increase.
"Every time they give us a raise, it's always very generous," Teena Ray, a city wastewater plant operator and laboratory technician, said last week. "I feel fortunate that they think so much of their employees."
Cost-of-living increases are never guaranteed in the private or public sectors. Just ask county employees.
But granting them when the money is there is the right thing to do. We congratulate the council for doing the right thing.