One of three charter amendments proposed by the bipartisan initiative Dallas HERO could tie the city manager’s compensation to the results of the City’s official community survey, creating the potential for a conflict of interest if the city manager weighs in publicly on the proposed amendments.

The community survey, which uses a cross-sampling from all 14 Dallas sub-districts, is conducted by a major national polling firm at the behest of City leadership.

The community survey is the most reliable indicator of how Dallas residents feel about a range of services, and what they most want City leaders to focus on.

“I am aware that accountability for city leaders such as the city manager is important, and I am delighted to hear that [Mayor Eric Johnson] would like to see more performance measures for the city manager,” said Stefani Carter, the honorary chair of the nonprofit Dallas HERO. “That is certainly consistent with what Dallas HERO wants.”

Carter told The Dallas Express the organization gathered more than 150,000 signatures petitioning the City to place three amendments on the November ballot.

The amendments aim to increase accountability in the city manager’s office, require the Dallas Police Department to maintain a ratio of just over three officers per 1,000 residents (or 4,000 sworn officers) and allow residents to sue government officials and others by waiving the City’s immunity claims.

The petition was delivered to City Secretary Bilierae Johnson on Tuesday. Under state law and court precedent, the city secretary must verify whether the required number of qualified voters have signed the petition in time for the proposed amendment to be voted on in the next election.

While a timeline for verifying proposed charter amendments is not expressed explicitly in the Dallas City Charter, other petition verification deadlines mentioned in the charter suggest a 30-day deadline.

Referring to other types of petitions, Dallas’ charter says, “If the petition is found to be sufficient, the city secretary shall submit the petition to the city council without delay.”

The city council then has the responsibility of adding the proposed amendments to the ballot for the next election, “at which the ordinance, without alteration, shall be submitted to a vote of the people.”

Dallas HERO works to introduce “citizen-powered amendments to the Dallas City Charter,” with those focused on “improving public safety and measures to hold our city leaders and city government accountable.”

The Dallas HERO proposals are separate from those considered and advanced by the Charter Review Commission for council member review.

HERO’s proposed amendment to the city manager’s accountability metrics provides that this person “receive potential ‘performance compensation’ of up to 100% of the City Manager’s annual base salary for the preceding fiscal year, and which shall be paid based on the results of an annual survey of residents described in this Section.”

But such compensation will be “separate and distinct” from the city manager’s salary “and any other compensation included in the City Manager’s employment agreement.”

Dallas City Council members appointed Kimberly Tolbert as interim city manager just days after the resignation of T.C. Broadnax, who has since become Austin’s city manager. Her salary was set at $367,683, while Broadnax’s annual pay was just over $423,000.

Carter said this is the right time to tie financial incentives to the city manager’s performance — an opinion shared by Johnson. The Dallas Express reported in April that the mayor favored increases in pay for measured performance over spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money on severance payments.

Broadnax, as previously reported by The Dallas Express, is seeking a payment equal to his annual salary. His employment agreement with the City of Dallas included a provision that allows him to receive the payment if he is involuntarily separated from the job.

“We’ve had ongoing dialogue with some of the members of council as well as the city secretary’s office regarding our upcoming submission,” Carter said. “Also, I’ve worked with numerous people across the city in discussing what we’re working on … and we revised what our proposed city charter amendments look like based on feedback. Overall, people have spoken, and people are excited about this citizen-driven, good government initiative.”

In the proposed amendment regarding the city manager’s performance, the person in that position would be evaluated on metrics that impact residents’ quality of life, including street repair and maintenance, crime, homelessness, cleanliness, and panhandling.

“I believe that the city leadership must be held accountable for how our tax dollars are spent, and the initiative related to city leader accountability is offering specific criteria for how we could judge success for the city manager,” Carter said. “It’s based on five quality-of-life metrics that impact all of us, so if the city manager does a great job, great. He or she will get performance compensation.”

Carter said that if the city manager doesn’t live up to those expectations, they “may be terminated.”