City council expands ODC

The Odessa City Council on Tuesday voted 5-2 to expand the Odessa Development Corporation Board from 5 to 7 members. The change gives Mayor Javier Joven and At-Large Councilwoman Denise Swanner each the power to now appoint their own choices to the influential ODC board.

Previously, only council members representing district’s 1-5 had the authority to each appoint one member to the board.

Councilman Mark Matta, who made the motion to expand the ODC board, said he was proposing the plan because “I want to see representation of the expanded council on ODC.”

Joven, Matta and Councilman Tom Sprawls pointed out that council previously wanted to expand the ODC board in 2018. The council didn’t proceed because the city’s attorney at the time told them that legally they were not allowed.

“Our city attorney at the time mis-represented the law,” Sprawls said.

Current City Attorney Natasha Brooks agreed with Sprawls and told council legally they could make the change. The city’s by-laws state the ODC must have a minimum of five members, but did not limit the membership number.

Joven, and council members Mari Willis, Matta, Sprawls and Swanner voted to expand the ODC to six members. Council members Steve Thompson and Detra White voted against.

Prior to the vote, White publicly questioned Joven’s motives for endorsing the change.

“I strongly endorse the ODC,” White said. “They are doing dynamic things. But Mayor, I haven’t spoken to you about any issues or concerns you might have.”

Joven replied: “No, I have no issues or concerns. This was an issue that was discussed previously by council in 2018. I believe voters want their boards and committees to be reflective of council.”

Willis initially expressed concerns about adding new members to the ODC. She cautioned that new members added to the board need to have a strong knowledge of business development.

“We need to be careful,” Willis said. “We have a lot of things going on in the city; things that need to be finished.”

Joven and Swanner on Tuesday did not announce their choices to join the ODC. Council did approve other citizen appointments to various city boards and committees, an exercise council does annually.

The ODC provides job creation grants, capital investment grants and other incentives for businesses seeking to expand in Odessa. The group also promotes and develops industrial and manufacturing enterprises in order to eliminate unemployment and bring in new jobs.

Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a $52,000 donation from the Chuck Wagon Community Fund Inc. to the Odessa Police Department. The grant will be used to pay for police training, Police Chief Mike Gerke said.

Council also approved the purchase of 3 Ford F550 Chassis Braun Ambulances from Siddons-Martin Emergency Group, LLC for $1,030,308, Assistant Chief EMS Rodd Huber said. Two of the vehicles will replace two of the city’s oldest Freight-liner ambulances along with 1 brand new addition for Station #9.