Lawyers for the Omaha Public Power District say employee severance deals worth upward of $700,000 are not public records.

The district's attorneys argued in court on Wednesday that even if the deals with seven former employees were public records, they couldn't be disclosed because they contain personal information beyond salary data.

The records dispute began with a public records request submitted to the publicly owned utility last fall by Mark Salerno, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1483. He sought details on the payouts. The district declined to say who was paid and why, so Salerno appealed to the courts.