The City of Odessa takes on $93 million in debt without voter approval

Published: Aug. 13, 2019 at 11:10 PM CDT
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Odessa City Council approved a certificate of obligation clearing the city to take on an additional $93 million in debt without voter approval.

Residents lined up at the council meeting urging the city to let voters choose whether the city should shoulder this massive debt.

“Ninety-three million dollars is something that must be put before the people,” one woman told council members. “We the people have a voice in all of this.”

But to no avail.

The council passed the motion in a five to one vote.

That $93 million will be used to fund a variety of city projects.

The lion’s share goes to building a new fire station, police multipurpose building and animal shelter while the rest will be spent on roads, sewage, parks and city offices.

Meeting attendees said they’re actually not opposed to spending on many of these projects and likely would have given the council a thumbs up—they just wish they had been given that option.

“One of my fears is at some point the state of Texas is going to come out and say hey you guys are abusing this little loophole you have,” Michael Gardener said. “And plus, nobody’s talking about how we’re going to pay this thing back. I know how we’re going to pay it back. I mean, our taxes are going up.”

The assistant city manager says that’s true, taxes will go up but she couldn’t estimate by how much.

As for paying it back, she says the city plans to pay back roughly $6 million every year for the next 20 years.

We asked why the council chose the certificate instead of a bond and she said this way is just simpler.

“They know what the needs are so they’re more educated as to what is needed and what we can afford to do.”

You can find a full breakdown of how that $93 million will be spent by going online to the City of Odessa’s homepage.