Trash, water remain top issues in Odessa

Records show 10 trucks ordered last year

Various types of trucks belonging to the City of Odessa wait to be repaired in the Equipment Services lot Thursday morning, July 22, 2021, in Odessa. (Odessa American File Photo)

It’s still going to be awhile before Odessans will begin to see twice weekly trash pickups, but the situation is slowly getting better, Odessa City Manager John Beckmeyer said Thursday.

Within the next 30 days the first of seven new trash trucks ordered by Equipment Services Director Chris Adams will arrive and two more are expected in mid-August.

They will join the 10 that were ordered by the previous administration that have arrived since the last quarter of 2023.

According to Odessa spokeswoman Monica Quintero, four more trucks are at the dealer waiting to be delivered to the body manufacturer and Adams expects to receive those in September or October.

Fifteen additional trucks will arrive in the first half of next year, she said.

For months Odessans have only been getting their trash picked up once a week instead of the normal twice a week because 18 out of 38 trucks were out of service, according to records obtained by the Odessa American through the Texas Public Information Act.

Back in December, Beckmeyer explained that past administrators weren’t replacing trucks at the end of their “true useful life” and they started breaking down, leaving staff scrambling to find parts at a time when there’s been a nationwide shortage.

Beckmeyer said Thursday that by early 2026 the city will be “fully stocked with trucks.”

He also said he’d just received some good news that will help with the ongoing trash issues.

“We found another diesel mechanic, repair shop, whatever you want to call it, that has access to even more parts nationwide and we’re starting to deal with them to try to get some of the ones that are broke down right now back on the road,” Beckmeyer said. “Chris has done a really marvelous job of going out and trying to find the alternatives to this.”

Beckmeyer said the city may not be back up to twice weekly pickups for awhile yet, but they’re not missing any pickups now. He said the number of resident complaints has “dropped off precipitously.”

In other matters, Beckmeyer said requests for quotes to make badly needed improvements at the Derrington Wastewater Treatment Plant will go out within the next week or 10 days.

He expects the contractors will bring funding mechanisms to the table with them.

Beckmeyer said he and others have determined that the city will not be able to use Odessa Development Corporation funds to leverage bonds for the Derrington plant or other infrastructure needs, an idea floated by Councilmember Steve Thompson.

Thompson had noted the ODC has roughly $23 million to $25 million in uncommitted funds and he thought the city could issue revenue bonds though the economic development group.

Beckmeyer said that after speaking with attorneys, he learned that the way the ODC is set up would prohibit that.

However, Beckmeyer said he was encouraged to hear the city may qualify for state or federal funds after meeting with the Texas Water Development Board, Thompson, State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa), State Senator Kevin Sparks (R-Midland) and ODC representatives.

“Mr. (Kevin) Niles in utilities is continuing those conversations. He’s getting the applications for the different programs because they’ve got a list of a half a dozen or more programs where we may be able to qualify on that,” Beckmeyer said.

Beckmeyer said he doesn’t know how much is available in total, but he’ll take anything he can get.

“I know the state funding was quite large this past session where it hasn’t been in the past and we’re talking into the billions of dollars and not millions of dollars,” Beckmeyer said. “I believe looking at the different projects they have we can qualify on multiple projects. It’s going to be significant where before it wasn’t. What I’m told it wasn’t significant. They weren’t well-funded before.”

Regardless of what happens with outside funding, Beckmeyer said he and city staff are currently preparing next year’s budget and he plans to devote every resource he can to infrastructure.

“And that could mean that we have to not do some things that we might have done in the past,” Beckmeyer said.

He didn’t have any specifics, but he said they are working even harder on zero-based budgeting than they did last year.

Zero-based budgeting is a method of budgeting where your income minus expenses equals zero.