DX Records Request Prompts $3,375 Invoice

Dallas City Hall
Dallas City Hall | Image by travelpixpro/Getty Images

More than a month after The Dallas Express filed a Texas Public Information Act request related to City Manager T.C. Broadnax’s resignation, the City of Dallas responded by asking the news outlet to pay nearly $3,400 to receive over 9,000 emails.

“We have prepared a cost estimate for the Public Records requested by you on [February 29],” the City said in an email to DX last week. “We have determined that complying with your request for public information will result in the imposition of a charge that exceeds $40.”

The Texas Public Information Act and the Texas Government Code allow political subdivisions, such as the City of Dallas, to charge requestors for copies and access to public records. If the charges exceed $40, the government entity must provide an itemized statement of estimated charges before the materials can be collected.

Using an hourly rate of $18.75 per hour plus “overhead,” the City calculated it would cost $3,375 to produce copies of the more than 9,000 emails. An hourly rate of $18.75 multiplied by the specified quantity of 150 (seemingly the total number of hours the project will take) results in a total of $2,812.50. The additional $562.50 added to the total in the invoice apparently covers the “overhead” that was authorized. An itemized statement, however, was not provided.

“We anticipate that the copies will be completed within a reasonable amount of time after we receive notice that you accept the charges and we receive your payment,” the City said.

On February 29, DX filed its open records request asking for all communications since February 1 between Dallas City Council members and Broadnax, Mayor Eric Johnson, and Deputy City Manager Kimberly Tolbert, who will assume Broadnax’s duties when he departs next month. The request for information was made to determine the extent to which the parties may have deliberated and coordinated Broadnax’s exit privately, possibly in violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Since Broadnax submitted his resignation on February 21, it has been widely reported that several Dallas City Council members orchestrated his ouster through private meetings, enabling Broadnax to receive a severance payout equal to his annual salary — more than $423,000 — under a provision in the employment agreement he signed in 2017. However, neither Broadnax, Johnson nor any of the 14 Dallas City  Council members have responded to repeated requests for comment from DX.

Broadnax was recently hired to serve as Austin’s city manager despite the litany of issues Dallas experienced during his tenure, including periodic permit backlogs, data breaches, and increases in crime, taxes, and City spending.

This is not the first time DX has been asked to pay exorbitant fees related to an open records request. Last year, Dallas ISD attempted to charge the news outlet about $9,000 after it sought documents that used several gender identity terms and references to left-wing sex-education advocacy groups.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, polling indicates that many Dallas residents want City officials to be more transparent.

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