Odessa city council approves CO bond for water plant

Ector County residents file in before the start of a city council meeting Tuesday evening at the Odessa City Hall. (Eli Hartman|Odessa American)

The Odessa City Council voted 4-3 on Tuesday to approve the use of a certificates of obligation bond to pay for a proposed $95 million major rehabilitation of the current water treatment plant.

Their decision came after numerous residents pleaded with council to allow voters to decide on whether to pass a bond issue to pay for the water treatment plant improvements.

“I’m asking council to table this vote,” resident Kris Crow told council prior to their vote. “Up to now not one council member has had a townhall meeting to educate us.

“We didn’t elect you to make decisions for us.”

Former Councilwoman Peggy Dean urged council to approve the measure and explained that co’s are the way that cities finance massive and expensive projects. Other former councilmen Dean Combs and Dr. Jimmy Goates likewise reminded the council that they are elected to make these type decisions.

Assistant City Manager of Administrative Services Cindy Muncy pointed out during the meeting that four public presentations about the water treatment plant and the use of COs were held since February.

Councilmen Steve Thompson and Tom Sprawls, who both voted for the certificates of obligation, also responded to Crow’s comments.

“My job was to meet with (city staff) and make the best decision for my constituents,” Thompson said. “(The water treatment plant) is an accident waiting to happen.”

“We elect people to make decisions,” agreed Councilman Tom Sprawls, who along with Thompson was the frequent target of criticism and threats that they would be voted out of office. “I do care about your concerns. But I’m not intimidated by the fact some of you disagree with me.”

Thompson, Sprawls, and councilwomen Detra White and Mari Willis voted in favor of the certificates of obligation. Mayor Javier Joven, Mark Matta and Denise Swanner voted against.

Council voted unanimously to hire Kimley Horn to oversee the updating of the city’s downtown master plan for $85,000. Council in April rejected by a 4-3 vote the initial recommendation to hire Horn for $112,00.

During Tuesday’s meeting, council was presented with a copy of council’s own code of conduct ordinance and asked to review the document, by City Secretary Norma Grimaldo. Grimaldo told council that it was just an “annual review” of the document and said no council members requested that it be placed on the agenda.

Thompson last week said he had asked for the document to be placed on the agenda for discussion because he was concerned about the mayor’s repeated disparaging public attacks on city staff and a councilman’s spouse.

Councilwoman White told Grimaldo she would review the code of conduct document, but wanted to have a public discussion about it in the future after Grimaldo instructed council to privately contact her if they had any concerns or comments.