Council mulls city manager appointment

It’s been about six months since the Odessa City Council named Michael Marrero the interim city manager, but the city leaders have yet to name him permanently to the post or consider any other candidates.

But council members will likely appoint Marrero in the coming weeks, said District 4 Councilman Mike Gardner. Gardner said from the beginning, council members and Marrero had discussed an interim period of about six months as ideal.

“There hasn’t been a search for anybody else,” Gardner said. “He’s got the most experience, and he has been in on this hotel/conference center deal from the beginning. He knows our city as well as anyone around.”

Marrero, who has worked for the city for two decades, served as former City Manager Richard Morton’s top deputy, managing departments of the city that deal directly with the public apart from fire and police services. Those included parks, public works, code enforcement and planning and zoning.

In the top post, which works most closely with the City Council, he began overseeing everything. Marrero said he has not sought city manager jobs elsewhere or discussed an appointment with the council in months because of more pressing city work.

“I’m really enjoying the role now, but as some point I’m sure we’ll discuss it,” Marrero said, adding he plans to apply for the permanent post. “This is home, so yeah.”

Three City Council members had combined to remove Morton on Sept. 12 — District 1 Councilman Malcolm Hamilton, District 3 Councilwoman Barbara Graff and District 5 Councilman Filiberto Gonzales. All five City Council members approved Marrero’s interim appointment about a week later.

In November, the City Council approved a raise for Marrero to more than $188,000 to reflect his new duties in the top administrative role.

“I wouldn’t want to change it, and he’s done a good job in the last six months,” Gardner said.

In addition to the city manager job, a decision on a new city attorney also lies ahead for the City Council following the resignation of Larry Long, who was allowed to retire at the end of February following a sexual harassment complaint corroborated by the city’s human resources department.

So far, the City Council has not begun a search for Long’s permanent replacement, Gardner said.

Interim City Attorney Gary Landers began running the city’s legal department on March 1. Landers is an employee of the Austin-based Bojorquez Law Firm, which specializes in municipal law. The City Council last month approved paying the firm more than $25,000 a month to the firm.

The city budgeted $130,000 for the legal services, which include Landers working in Odessa five days a week, but the contract can be terminated at anytime.

Landers will not seek the permanent appointment, he said in an interview last week. He said the top city’s two appointees serving in an interim role presented an opportunity to assess the direction of the city.

“How long is the interim going to last?” Landers said at the time. “Well, that’s why we call it an interim. It will last until it’s over.”

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