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Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2002 10:00 pm

A majority of Lodi City Council members declined Tuesday to release a $22,000 consultant survey on city salaries until next month, though Vice Mayor Susan Hitchcock said it should be made public now.

Following a Tuesday morning meeting, Mayor Phil Pennino said the council had asked the consulting firm to make changes in the report and bring it back at its Oct. 1 meeting.

That's when it will be made public, Pennino said.

Vice Mayor Susan Hitchcock believes the document should be released now.

"It's a salary survey that was done with taxpayer money. It should be public," she said Tuesday. "I don't know how they can justify that it isn't, but the city attorney says it is just a draft."

In July, the council approved paying a private Roseville-based firm, Personnel Concepts, up to $50,000 to survey the salaries of similar cities and compare them to Lodi's. It grew from a request by the Police Officers Association to check if they were underpaid after several Lodi employees left to go to what they felt were better-paying agencies.

Although City Manager Dixon Flynn received a copy of the completed survey two weeks ago, he said he was asked by council members not to release it until they reviewed and discussed it.

Four members of the council met in closed session to discuss the survey.

Councilwoman Emily Howard was absent.

The survey was distributed to council members Friday. The first available chance they had to review the document together was Tuesday, Pennino said.

An attorney for the California Newspaper Publishers Association has said he believes the report should be made public because it does not qualify as a draft.

The attorney, Jim Ewert, said council members would also have to show cause that releasing the information to the public causes greater harm than not disclosing it.


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