The Odessa City Council appointed Michael Marrero as city manager in a unanimous vote on Tuesday, more than seven months after tapping Marrero to temporarily fill the city’s top administrative role following the ouster of his predecessor.
Marrero, who has worked for the city for more than 20 years, described the appointment as a “tremendous honor.” He assumes his position after a tumultuous year and as the city pursues major projects including efforts to redevelop downtown Odessa, improve the city’s drinking water supply and plan for growth in a booming economy.
“What I really want to say to the public is that I look forward to working with the City Council and the staff of the City of Odessa and the citizens to move our city forward,” Marrero said. “There’s a lot of great things happening in our community, a lot of real positive things. I don’t want to dwell on the negative. I want to dwell on that that will move us forward.”
Marrero will also seek to hire two assistant city managers, filling other top administrative positions that are vacant.
The decision to hire Marrero came after the City Council met behind closed doors for more than 90 minutes. Marrero met with them and the City Council gave him a performance evaluation.
“Michael has just done a super job from that time that he has come in as the interim,” District 2 Councilman Dewey Bryant said. “He has kept the glue on this city.”
The City Council members approved a salary for Marrero of $238,000, not including benefits. That’s more than his predecessor. Former city manager Richard Morton’s salary was about $223,000 when he was fired by a majority of three council members after 15 years, a tenure more than twice as long as the industry standard.
Marrero’s appointment had been expected, after the City Council declined to consider other candidates for the post.
District 5 Councilman Filiberto Gonzales, who moved to appoint Marrero, praised his “excellent work” on behalf of the City Council since the fall.
The City Council also gave a performance review to Interim City Attorney Gary Landers, whose performance the elected officials have lauded, during the closed-door meeting. Landers assumed the post in March after his predecessor Larry Long was allowed to retire following a sexual harassment complaint corroborated by the city.
But Landers is not seeking a permanent appointment. He works for the Austin-based Bojorquez Law Firm, which specializes in municipal law. The City Council in February approved paying the firm more than $25,000 a month for legal services.
The City Council also discussed a pending complaint against Long and the way the board handles complaints against top city appointees such as the city manager and the city attorney.
Once the City Council emerged from the private meeting, the elected officials unanimously voted to give authority to the interim city attorney to resolve the pending complaint about Long. That complaint stemmed from a complaint by an assistant city attorney who alleged unequal pay based on gender.
The City Council’s vote on Tuesday authorized budget adjustments to resolve the complaint, but the elected officials did not cite a specific cost.
In the future, complaints against top appointees will no longer be reviewed by a personnel subcommittee comprised of only two City Council members before they are considered by the full board at a publicly-posted meeting. With the Long case, a majority of the City Council said they were not provided with HR findings corroborating the account of his accuser for months.
The city attorney will be tasked with reviewing and investigating future complaints against appointees. If a complaint involves the attorney, then those duties will fall to the city manager. They could hire outside help.
Another matter the City Council discussed in private involved real estate but the elected officials took no action and did not specify the property that the conversation involved.
Tuesday was the City Council’s first closed-door meeting since the elected officials committed to reforms in a March settlement of a lawsuit filed last year by the Odessa American alleging violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act. The Tuesday meeting was recorded, per the settlement, which goes beyond what the law requires.
The city will also keep the audio recording of the closed meetings and future meetings for at least two years, allowing a judge to examine the records if future lawsuits allege violations of the open meetings act.
IN OTHER BUSINESS, THE CITY COUNCIL:
>>Discussed in a pre-meeting briefing session Open Meetings Act training, the transportation master plan and council agenda items.
>>Approved minutes from the April 24 City Council meeting and May 1 finance committee meeting.
>>Approved accepting donations from First United Pentecostal Church to Odessa Fire/Rescue and the Odessa Police Department.
>>Approved for the second and final time an ordinance temporarily lowering the speed limit on University Boulevard to 30 miles per hour during construction on the thoroughfare, which is being widened.
>>Approved for the first timean ordinance renewing a gas franchise with Atmos Energy Corporation.
>>Approved for the second and final time a request by Shihab Diais for original zoning of Retail-One on more than four acres northwest of the intersection of North Faudree Road and Windchase Street.
>>Approved for second and final time an ordinance incorporating the City of Odessa’s current gas and electricity franchises into the “Business Regulations” chapter of the City Code.
>>Approved for the second and final timean ordinance amending the City Code to change the name of the “Subdivision Requirements” chapter to the “Development Regulations” chapter and adding a new article codifying regulations already in effect that relate to streets, alleys, water, sewer and drainage improvements standards and requirements.
>>Approved renewal of an annual contract with Fox Scientific for laboratory supplies used in routine water and waste analysis that is expected to cost $60,000.
>>Approved an industrial agreement with Ryan Jones for development of an RV park on more than 2 acres of land located south of JBS Parkway.
>>Approved a $450,000 bid award to Willis Electric for installing traffic signals at the intersection of Dawn Avenue and Yukon Road and another at Faudree Road and Dorado Avenue.