City council raises pay for Jones, Beckmeyer

Odessa City Attorney Dan Jones and City Manager John Beckmeyer received raises during Tuesday night’s council meeting with little discussion.

Jones, who was promoted to his position in December 2022, will go from earning $190,000 a year to $215,000 a year. Beckmeyer, who started his job last August, will see his salary increase to $250,000 from $237,000.

“Council thank you and that’s the best $215,000 you’ll ever spend,” Jones said.

In addition to extending the men’s contracts, the council also gave City Secretary Norma Aguilar a new contract. Aguilar is the city’s longest-serving department head having started in 1998.

“Her and I had a conversation right before this meeting and she would like to stay at her present salary and not take the increase to $150,000 because we gave her an increase in October,” said Councilmember Denise Swanner.

During Tuesday’s council workshop, the city council heard from Mauricio Navarro, the event planner behind the Dallas St. Patrick’s Parade and Festival and the Dia de Los Muertos Parade and Festival in Dallas and Houston.

Odessa City Manager John Beckmeyer said he wants the city to get out of the event planning business and Navarro presented his ideas for the City of Odessa.

During his first year, Navarro said he’d produce three events: Fandango, the Christmas parade and a Dia de Los Muertos parade.

“It would be a one-year contract, we’re looking negotiable at $50,000 but this is where it gets even better. Year One, we would look for support from the City of Odessa for public safety security plans, traffic control plans, venue selection, master events schedules, sanitation requirements, infrastructure requirements, city permits, ordinances, etc.,” Navarro said. “So basically year one is training. Help us get those city resources to build these events and more.”

But in Year Two, Navarro said the financial obligation for the city would be zero.

Beckmeyer told the council he thinks Navarro’s proposal is one that should be considered, but he noted there would still be some events city staff would still handle on their own.

Swanner said she thought it’d be nice for city staff to actually get to enjoy events with their families.

Celeste Canedo, president of the Odessa Cultural Celebration Council, also expressed her support for the Navarro Group, noting Odessans would no longer have to travel to celebrate “culturally rich festivals.”

Canedo read a prepared statement to the council.

“The benefits would rippled through our community like a jubilant wave. Our local economy would thrive as visitors from neighboring towns would flock to witness our newfound vibrancy. The streets would echo with laughter the air would carry the scent of the molars and churros and our hearts would swell with pride,” Canedo said. “But let us not forget our most precious resource. The children are Mexican American youth born of two worlds deserve to know their roots. They should feel the earthy rhythm of mariachi music, the taste of warmth and boil as a puzzle and learn the tales of their ancestors.”

The council also heard about an internal salary study conducted by Odessa Fire Rescue.

OFR wants to remove incentive, skills and acting pay from their structures for future firefighters and address compression issues all in an effort to offer competitive salaries.

Mayor Javier Joven said he thought the study conducted by Evergreen Solutions in 2022 wasn’t thorough or complete.

“I felt that the study was adversarial in pitting all the departments against each other. And I thought that was completely unfair because that’s not the intent and I didn’t have confidence in it,” Joven said. “I have a lot more confidence in this.”

Roughly $10.6 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds were set aside for OFR and it was expected to last the department until the end of Fiscal Year 2026. Eight million of those funds remain and if the council adopts OFR’s new plan, the money will run out in FY 2025.

In addition to offering competitive salaries, the new pay structure will make things much easier for human resources and payroll, which will no longer have to worry about the incentives and other sorts of pay.

In other matters, the council:

  • Settled two lawsuits that stemmed from separate crashes caused by an OPD officer and a solid waste driver. The former was settled for $50,000 and the latter for $85,000.
  • Entered into a $165,000 contract with Reeder Distributors to install seven fuel tanks so the city can fuel its own fleet. The contract also calls for the city to purchase fuel from Reeder for city vehicles.

According to Equipment Services Director Chris Adams, the city will save roughly $750,000 the first year by fueling up its own vehicles.

  • Passed a resolution that will result in the demolishment and reconstruction of the 40-year-old Woodcrest Apartments on 8th Street. According to materials provided to council, the project would allow the 80-unit property to continue receiving a rental subsidy from Housing and Urban Development for 20 years.
  • Created the Windmill Crossing Public Improvement District at Andrews Highway and East 100th Street, the city’s first PID. Such districts are where homeowners pay taxes for water and sewer services and specific neighborhood infrastructures, such as enhanced landscaping, swimming pools, and parks. Public improvement district taxes are levied against the home until paid in full over a set period or all at once. In this instance, homeowners will be assessed $450 annually divided over 12 months.
  • Authorized the creation of a new special project coordinator position. The person will provide downtown project management and support, conduct feasibility studies and be involved in special projects.