Michael Marrero takes on the job as the new city manager following a tumultuous year and as the city pursues major projects.
Those include efforts to redevelop downtown Odessa, improve the city’s drinking water supply and plan for growth in a booming economy. His appointment by the Odessa City Council, which was unanimous on Tuesday, had been expected.
Marrero, an employee of the city for more than 20 years, was the only candidate considered for the job in more than seven months since he began serving in an interim role following the ouster of his predecessor. Marrero described the appointment as a “tremendous honor.”
“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 seeks to hire two assistant city managers, filling other top administrative positions that are vacant. That search has already begun, Marrero said.
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.
- 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.