Mayor: City manager appointment imminent

Mayor David Turner said the Odessa City Council could appoint Michael Marrero as the permanent city manager in as soon as three weeks, praising the interim top administrator’s work since the elected officials sacked his predecessor in September.

“He is doing a phenomenal job,” Turner said. “We are working on a contract to make him the permanent city manager.”

Turner delivered the news about Marrero’s appointment during his annual State of the City speech today. The mayor focused on recent and upcoming city projects in the speech, while omitting any discussion of the turmoil stemming from the City Council during the past year and complaining repeatedly about the news media.

“The city leadership is in great shape,” Turner said.

The mayor said the city is facing difficulty with employee vacancies amid the oil boom and rising costs of living. The city reported 133 vacant positions in late March — up from 88 a year ago.

“Cities are experiencing the same attrition everyone else has,” Turner said.

Vacancies include the two assistant city manager positions.

Much of the mayor’s speech involved downtown Odessa, where construction crews are building the city-supported hotel and conference center that is expected to open in early 2019.

In the next year, the mayor outlined plans to add lighting to the area, among other work. The city is also tweaking incentive programs to spur redevelopment in the area around the hotel. Meanwhile, the city is ramping up traffic and building code enforcement.

Citywide projects the mayor touted included a new app that he said would make it easier for citizens to access city services and separate ordinances passed by the City Council in the past year that target problems of heavy truck traffic and underage drinking.

Turner called for new fire stations, particularly in northern Odessa, where he said the city needs at least two amid surging demand for ambulance services in Ector County.

To help keep up with growth in the city and along its boundaries, the mayor outlined a series of road improvements he said are needed and called for “selective annexation” to shore up revenue for the city.

The months ahead may also see the city invest in improvements to the city’s drinking water supply, funded in part by the revenue brought in by selling treated wastewater to the oil company Pioneer Natural Resources. Turner said a study examining adding a reverse osmosis system to the water treatment plant should yield results within a few months.

“One of our goals is to be able to soften your water, so that you’ll have the best water in West Texas,” Turner said.

Mayor David Turner speaks about priorities for Odessa before June 2019, the city’s financial picture, crime numbers, road projects, truck routes, employee shortages, water projects, underage drinking, the Odessa app and other items during the State of the City Address this afternoon at the MCM Grande Hotel and FunDome.

Jacob Ford|Odessa American