CBS7 INVESTIGATES: City of Odessa uses taxpayer money to fly, lodge workers from out of town

ODESSA, Tx (KOSA) -- It's difficult right now to hire people because of the oil boom - we all get that.

So, The City of Odessa is filling a few jobs with interim employees and outsourcing jobs to firms out of town, which is costing taxpayers a lot of extra cash.

"We have over 150 openings right now at the city, because basically we're fighting everyone else," Mayor David Turner. "If an employee can drive heavy equipment, the oilfield snatches them up."

Turner added that many of those jobs are fairly big ones like the Director of Finance, Director of Municipal Court and Admin, and City Attorney.

"We actually do have some leads. We are using a headhunter to bring people in, and should be filling some of those positions very quickly," Turner said. "It's just a more difficult process for a city to hire employees."

We asked the Mayor specifically about the City Attorney position, which is currently being filled on an interim basis by Attorney Gary Landers.

According to our partners at the Odessa American the city budgeted $130,000 for the temporary legal services of the Bojorquez Law Firm, which includes Landers working in Odessa five days a week.

Although, when you add up all of Landers' expenses, the bill comes in at way more than $130,000.

According to his contract, Landers' can bill $107 an hour for up to 160 hours per pay period.

Tax dollars are also paying for him to stay at a hotel, which usually runs at least a couple hundred dollars a night.

Plus a $50-a-day per diem, and two trips from here back to his home in Tyler twice a month.

Add it all up - and the grand total is a lot more than the $130,000 that's budgeted.

Turner said the City Attorney position was recently posted, and they hope to begin the interview process in the next couple of months. He added that they will hang on to Landers until the permanent city attorney can be trained.

We also requested the contract for the city's newly hired financial consultant company, which is being outsourced to Eddie Peacock, PLLC, located in the DFW area.

We found that, depending on how Peacock and his associate are splitting up the work hours and trips, the city could be paying the consulting firm up to $71,000 for three months of work.

Up to $13,000 of that are trip expenses alone.

Mayor Turner said he only manages about five city employees and couldn't speak on the details of Interim City Attorney Gary Landers' contract or the agreement with Eddie Peacock PLLC.

He told us to reach out to City Manager Michael Morrero.

We did multiple times by phone, email and in person, and he did not get back with us.