Council to further discuss ARPA spending

The Odessa City Council will spend more time Tuesday discussing how to spend American Rescue Plan Act money.

Finance Director Kaylie Banda will go over the rules during the council’s work session at 3 p.m.

The city has until the end of the year to obligate $8.5 million in ARPA funds and until Dec. 31, 2026, to spend it.

Department heads were recently asked to come up with wish lists and Mayor Javier Joven asked each council member to prioritize projects for their districts.

The public works department provided a long list of street projects, while the police department asked for an updated 911 system. The fire department listed cancer screenings, hiring and retention incentives and updated tools on its wish list. The department also noted it will need additional fire stations in the future and to replace a couple of existing fire stations.

The police and fire departments also noted the crumbling two-story parking garage downtown needs to be demolished.

Communications Director Monica McDaniel will also provide the council a sneak peek of the city’s redesigned website during the work session. The consolidated and streamlined website will launch Thursday.

During the regular council meeting at 6 p.m., the council will consider decodifying the Odessa Development Corporation’s guidelines for its downtown infrastructure and facade grant program and designating P Bar Parks Bell Ranch an industrial district for seven years.

Among the items on the council’s consent agenda is an amendment to the police department’s budget.

On Jan. 25, 2022, the council agreed to purchase a packaged bundle of hardware, software, training programs, 24/7 customer support and equipment refreshes from Axon, a company that provides Taser smart weapons, body cameras and other high-tech gear to law enforcement agencies.

The contract was for roughly $638,000 a year for 10 years, however, the purchase never made it into to the budget in 2022, nor did it make it into the budget in 2023.

The city’s finance department lost a number of critical staff members in the months following the council’s decision to fire City Manager Michael Marrero and City Attorney Natasha Brooks in December 2022.

Assistant City Manager Cindy Muncy, who also spent much of her time dealing with the city’s finances, quit one week after the council fired Marrero.

Zackary Beseril, the City’s budget manager, submitted his resignation letter in April and Director of Finance Larry Fry retired at the end of May and Interim Director of Finance Seth Boles quit in October.

Banda was hired Nov. 13.