City votes for $1,500 bonuses for employees

The Odessa City Council voted Tuesday to give full-time city workers a one time bonus of $1,500, which should be paid out next week.

City staff pointed to higher sales tax numbers than budgeted for the year to fund the payments. Council members voted unanimously for the payments, minus Councilmember Mark Matta who was not in attendance.

Council also voted unanimously to allow John Herriage’s Copper Key Realty to begin the process of selling some city properties such as the old fire station off of Grandview. After discussion they agreed to let city staff come up with a list of properties to possibly sell and to bring that back before the council. Herriage will be paid a 5 percent commission on sales.

The Council also heard during an earlier work session from representatives of Performance Services on projects related to replacing water meters and other water-related items.

The reports detailed savings for the City as new water meters that will not have mechanical parts are more accurate at measuring how much water is used. They detailed that the city could capture almost $3 million more annually from billing using the upgraded meters.

The new meters could last up to 20 years.

During the regular meeting hearings were opened on several change of zoning requests. No one showed up to speak for or against any of the projects. All were approved unanimously.

Newton Engineering requested a zone change from FD, Future Development District, to a Planned Development-Light Commercial District, on a 13.01 acre-tract of land located in the southwest corner of the intersection of Parks Legado and San Machell. The change allows the development of offices and a car showroom for the Sewell Family of Companies.

Parkhill requested a zone change from FD, Future Development District, to an R, Retail District, on a 20.13-acre tract of land located near Legacy Road and Yukon Road for future retail.

Charles Mark Jones requested a specific use permit to allow workforce housing near the west side of OIDC Drive off of the I-20 service Road. Mayor Javier Joven said he had a conflict and did not vote on this item.

Council approved a five year economic development agreement between the Odessa Development Corporation and Border State Industries.

They also approved a compliance consulting services agreement and engagement letter between the Odessa Development Corporation and Whitley Penn LLP.

Odessa Police Department Chief Mike Gerke asked the council to accept $135,000 donated to the City of Odessa Police Department from Bustin’ for Badges Clay Shoot.

“It’s a tremendous amount of money…the money is great and awesome and for our women and men to see the support…it means something to them,” Gerke said.

He said the first clay shoot eight years ago raised about $28,000.

There was much discussion on the termination of the Ector County Independent School District school attendance court interlocal agreement with the City of Odessa.

City Attorney Dan Jones said the current contract is “unethical and illegal” and the Council voted to terminate the contract.

Jones said for 10 years ECISD has paid the City to run the truancy court and during that time the funds were submitted to the city attorney’s office and then placed in the general fund of the city. He said a new agreement will be worked out with ECISD to put the funds through the municipal court rather than through the city attorney’s office.

ECISD will still pay the city to handle the truancy cases but the money will be in a designated account, which Jones said is what every other city in Texas does.

He also claimed that this was “another illegal activity” likely referring to the work of his predecessor Natasha Brooks, who was fired prior to Jones being named city attorney.

Jones himself was reprimanded by Brooks prior to her firing for gossiping and harassment. He didn’t dispute the allegations in his reprimand. He simply wrote “I’ve recently had a lapse in judgment. I apologize for my failures. I will improve greatly.” That reprimand was dated 10/28/21.

Records from a Texas Workforce Commission complaint filed by Brooks after she was fired were recently released to a local social media site that detail harassment claims by Brooks.

An Odessa American public information request to the TWC was answered with this response:

“Generally, all citizens have the right to copies of government records. However, TWC Civil Rights Division complaint records are confidential and must be withheld until proper authorization for access to records and identification can be verified.”

The OA has requested the records from the City of Odessa.