Public safety raises on City agenda Tuesday

Pay raises are on the Odessa City Council’s Tuesday night agenda.

The city council will be asked to approve a 4% cost of living adjustment for public safety employees. According to information provided to the council, the salaries of other city employees were addressed in the FY23-24 budget.

Last December, the city council voted 5-2 to provide more than $2 million in raises to Odessa’s emergency dispatchers, police personnel and OFR firefighters using American Rescue Plan Act money after it was revealed OFR had lost more than 70 employees over the last two years.

As a result of the vote, the department’s roughly 200 firefighters received 8 to 20% raises, depending on their position within the department. Dispatchers and police personnel are now being paid commiserate with the top 66% of their colleagues in peer cities.

The council will also be asked if the human resource department can post the positions currently held by Odessa Municipal Court Judge Carlos Rodriguez and Associate Municipal Court Judge Keith Kidd.

Municipal court judges serve two-year terms. Both judges have been the subject of executive session discussions three times since December 2022, the latest being just two weeks ago.

The first time the pair was discussed was Dec. 13, the night City Manager Michael Marrero and City Attorney Natasha Brooks were fired. The second time was a month later when a handful of local attorneys strenuously objected to the idea Rodriguez might be fired.

No action was taken in December and the matter was tabled following the January meeting.

No action was taken following a three-hour executive session Oct. 10.

The council will also be asked to consider changing a city ordinance so two alternative board members can be added to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

According to materials provided to council members, adding two alternative members “would allow flexibility in having a meeting when there is no quorum from the regular members.”

During the city’s work session at 3 p.m., the city council will discuss replacing 58 old Odessa Fire Rescue portable radios for roughly $617,000 and replacing deteriorated side-loading refuse containers and refuse carts for roughly $274,287.

Also on Tuesday’s work session agenda is discussion of an $80,000 public art structure designed by artist Randy Walker and approved by the city council in January.

According to materials provided by the city, the art piece, entitled “Formations” was scheduled to be designed by the end of Week 5 and installed by the end of Week 18.

Odessa Arts Director Randy Ham said the piece is complete and ready to be installed. Ham also said the Bright Stars Memorial is being installed in the UTPB Library on Monday until the outdoor memorial is ready. The Bright Stars Memorial commemorates those injured and killed in a mass shooting in Odessa four years ago.

Ham indicated he did not know what it was on the agenda as he has been out of the office due to a death in his family.

The council will also discuss placing no trespassing and/or loitering signs at city parks and amending a city ordinance to ban camping inside city parks when they’re closed.