The Odessa City Council will consider paying about $3.3 million for repairs to city buildings, drawing on reserve funds flush after booming sales tax in what city administrators describe as needed mechanical and lighting work that will save millions in maintenance costs over the coming decades.
The project, after a study by the city’s energy provider Gexa Energy Solutions, would upgrade the mechanical system of the Municipal Plaza and the Odessa Police Department, including air conditioning equipment and related infrastructure. The proposed work also calls for new LED lighting at City Hall in a bid to save on energy costs. Other portions of the project would add a surge protection system at City Hall and fix windows of city buildings that leak air.
If the City Council approved the project on Tuesday, the work would be expected to take about nine months.
The City Council in January approved paying Gexa more than $168,000 for what City Manager Michael Marrero described as an “investment-grade audit” “to ensure that all the things we suspected needed to be done were in fact looked at and considered.”
Marrero said the city’s estimated cost of the proposed work was about $3.5 million more than a year ago.
Even though the City Council has not budgeted for the repairs in recent years, officials have reserved $3.5 million for at least two years for the work.
The city’s sales tax windfall this fiscal year soared, reaching more than 65 percent greater than what budget writers predicted with the most recent payment to the city in June. That’s a total of about $15 million more than what city official anticipated.
Before studying the buildings in January, Gexa had projected about $2.6 million for the repairs. But the estimate increased primarily because of equipment the audit showed the city buildings need and related structural changes to accommodate installation.
“As we peeled the onion back, we found some things that are really critical to the operations of the city facilities, and I think they are quite vital to making the buildings do what you intended them to do,” Gexa representative Marcus Johnson said.
Gexa also rebid the project after receiving higher-than-expected estimates.
Marrero and a maintenance official said that today, the state of the buildings occupies city maintenance workers daily.
Johnson said the new system should last more than 20 years.
- More information on the City Council’s Finance Committee minutes.