A former Dallas City Council member is arguing that the next city manager must deliver on basic services and reduce taxpayer spending, which is currently outpacing growth.

In an op-ed published in The Dallas Morning News, Jennifer Staubach Gates wrote, “Sound financial management is crucial, especially considering the significant increase of the budget over the past 10 years without substantial population growth. The general fund budget has risen by approximately $707 million in that time, a 62% increase. This growth is not sustainable, particularly when shouldered by property taxes.”

The City’s fiscal year 2023-2024 budget is $4.6 billion. Only Mayor Eric Johnson and four of the 14 Dallas City Council members voted against it, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

“The new city manager should be tasked with presenting a plan to prioritize spending on core services and expand the tax base by creating new sources of revenue, rather than solely relying on the existing tax base,” Gates wrote. “… The value of the city lies within sanitation workers, street and traffic maintenance staff, first responders, 311 and 911 call takers, code officers, librarians and many others who interact with the public and deliver essential city services. The city is a customer-facing organization and should always function with that mindset.”

Gates was a Dallas City Council member for District 13 from 2013 to June 2021.

“A crucial current focus should be on development services including fixing building permitting obstacles to facilitate and encourage new growth,” Gates wrote in the op-ed. “Additionally, the new manager should be a clear and concise communicator, capable of maintaining effective communication with the council and all City Hall constituents.”

Louis Darrouzet, CEO of the Metroplex Civic & Business Association, told DX in May that Dallas needs “a strong city manager who can get this house in order — one who can get the City in a place so efficient they can do projects they want to get done because they already have the money.”

Residents appear to agree, giving then-City Manager T.C. Broadnax a 1.9 out of 10 for effectiveness across several service categories in a poll conducted in January, as reported by The Dallas Express.

Three weeks ago, the Dallas City Council contracted with Baker Tilley, a public sector executive recruitment firm, for $134,374 to search for a new city manager. The contract term is one year, with a one-year renewal option. Nina Arias, Dallas’ director of human resources, said the typical search lasts six months.

After seven years as Dallas’ city manager, Broadnax left in early May to become Austin’s city manager. Former Deputy City Manager Kimberly Tolbert was named interim city manager on February 27 — six days after Broadnax resigned. Meanwhile, Tolbert has not answered DX‘s questions about whether she has applied or intends to apply for the city manager’s position. City council members have also not responded to the outlet’s questions about whether they would support her candidacy.

Baker Tilley lists more than a dozen “active searches” on its website, but the Dallas city manager position is not included. The firm has not responded to DX‘s questions about when the job will be listed and its request for the job description.