City may pay (again) for a salary survey

The downtown parking garage, CDBG funds and a compensation plan are among the items on Tuesday’s Odessa City Council agenda.

In April, the city asked 14 firms what they thought it would cost to design and build a new municipal parking garage at North Lee and West Third street after two engineering firms agreed the existing two-story structure and its sky bridge were corroding and needed to be replaced.

According to materials provided to the council by Development Services Director Jeffrey Fisher, three firms submitted bids. However, he will ask the council Tuesday night to reject all three.

Fisher said the bid committee believes there may be more “cost-effective and technologically advanced options” available and the evaluation criteria may be too strict.

He’d like to request proposals that would include automated parking facilities, which he said would reduce costs and physical space requirements. Employees would drop off their vehicle so the vehicle could be robotically lifted into an available parking space.

He plans to ask for $200,000 for design plans and drawings for the winning firm and said additional funds would be required for construction in the upcoming fiscal year.

The city council will also be asked to award Gallagher Human Resources a $157,000 contract to develop a classification and compensation pay structure they hope will help the city recruit and retain employees.

If the council agrees, it will be the second time in two years a firm has been hired to do the same thing.

Evergreen Solutions was hired in July 2022 for $111,500 to look at staffing levels and compensation for public safety positions. The company also developed a comprehensive classification and compensation program for the entire city, but their recommendations were never put into place.

Evergreen was wrapping up their work when there was a fierce fight amongst council members about giving Odessa first responders, especially firefighters, a raise. Several city council members weren’t opposed to the raises, but wanted to wait until Evergreen was done looking at all city positions before awarding them. However, after three council members, Tom Sprawls, Detra White and Mari Willis, opted not to run for re-election in November 2022 and were replaced, all first responders received their raise and Evergreen never presented their findings.

The city council will also decide Tuesday night which organizations will receive Community Development Block Grant funding.

Among those asking for funding are the non-profit organizations of Meals on Wheels, The Salvation Army, Family Promise and Odessa Links. City staff is also asking for funding for a housing rehab program, a demolition program, short-term rental assistance program and the city’s elderly and disabled lawn mowing program.

During the council’s 3 p.m. work session, they’ll discuss the possibility of hiring various companies to be “on-call” for electrical, HVAC/plumbing, architectural, engineering and land surveying services. Each company would have a one-year contract with an option to renew for an additional year.

According to materials provided to the council, Assistant City Manager Cristina Burns believes the on-call process “will save the city time and money, limiting the need for additional meetings, preparing additional requests for qualifications and having to publish additional legal notices.”

The council will also be asked if staff can seek out qualified contractors to improve the Bob Derrington Wastewater Treatment Plant by issuing requests for qualifications.

The council has heard from various firms just how bad conditions are at the plant.

City council member Chris Hanie also wants to discuss changing the city’s ordinance that prohibits “entering restrooms of opposite sex” during the council work session.

He wants to change the words “opposite sex” to “birth sex” and he wants to expand the ordinance to include changing rooms and locker rooms.

The council will also continue its discussion on changing the city’s charter regarding term limits and discuss the results of a task force review of the police department’s police academy and training department.