Committee Recommends Broadnax for Austin City Manager

Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax
Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax | Image by Fox 4

After whittling down the pool of applicants from 39 to two, a city council subcommittee has recommended that the City of Austin begin negotiations to hire Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax for the same position in the Texas capital.

“I give great thanks to both of our excellent candidates,” Austin Mayor Kirk Watson wrote on a city message board Tuesday night. “I know this has been a daunting process, but they’ve demonstrated their professionalism. Austin would do well with either person. The subcommittee … recommends that we post a council action for April 4, 2024, to authorize negotiation of an employment agreement and/or to authorize execution of an employment agreement with T.C. Broadnax.”

Watson, Mayor Pro Tem Leslie Pool, and Council Members Paige Ellis, Vanessa Fuentes, and Jose Vela form the subcommittee. Pool and other council members offered their support for Broadnax on the message board.

“I want to congratulate T.C. Broadnax on his selection and really look forward to getting to work together to not just solve the pressing challenges facing Austin, but build on all the areas that already make this such a great place to live,” Council Member Ryan Alter said. “I also would like to thank Sara Hensley for putting herself forward and being so willing to serve this City we all love.”

Hensley, the other finalist in the subcommittee’s city manager search, has served as Denton’s city manager since March 2022. Prior to that, she worked for the City of Austin as parks and recreation director and interim assistant city manager.

“I just wish the best for Austin and T.C.!” Hensley told The Dallas Express. “My focus is Denton and how we can work together to move the Mayor and Council’s priorities forward!”

Subcommittee members offered their recommendation following a day of closed-door interviews with Hensley and Broadnax. On Monday, the two candidates attended a town hall to answer questions from residents and the media.

“Colleagues, it was important to me to have a thoughtful, inclusive process with plenty of opportunity for City staff and public input, and I’m grateful to the two final candidates — T.C. Broadnax and Sara Hensley — for their professionalism and clear passion to serve Austinites,” Pool wrote on the Austin message board. “Both interviewed and presented exceedingly well. The scope of T.C.’s experience tipped the balance for me: he has not only managed cities of our size and complexity, he has specifically demonstrated the ability to work through difficult controversies.”

According to the Austin American-Statesman, Broadnax submitted his application and resume shortly after he announced in a February 21 letter that he’s resigning as Dallas city manager effective June 3.

“His vision for public service and his experience — that testing — will help Austin meet our challenges now and into the future,” Pool wrote. “I thank Sara for her service to Austin and for putting herself forward for the city manager role. She is a friend to me, and our city, and Denton is fortunate to have her continuing leadership.”

Broadnax has been Dallas’ city manager for just over seven years, and he’s been under heavy scrutiny since 2021, when 20 terabytes of Dallas police data was lost. The City was the target of a ransomware attack last year, which compromised the personal data of more than 30,000 people. Broadnax has also been repeatedly criticized for his handling of a building permit backlog that led some city officials to push for his termination in 2022.

When Broadnax leaves in June, he is expected to receive a severance payout of more than $423,000, equal to his yearly base salary. Deputy City Manager Kimberly Tolbert has been appointed to serve as interim city manager when Broadnax leaves his position in Dallas in June.

Former Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk, ousted over his handling of power outages during a 2023 winter storm, was paid an annual salary of $388,000, the Statesman reported. Interim City Manager Jesus Garza’s salary is about $350,000.

Watson did not immediately return a message seeking comment about the salary Broadnax is expected to receive.

“Felicidades and welcome to our next city manager, T.C. Broadnax,” Austin City Council Member Jose Velasquez wrote on the message board. “I’m looking forward to the challenges, collaboration and service that provide us with nothing but opportunity to make our city a welcoming place for all. Huge propers [sic] and thanks to Sara Hensley for being a candidate and for considering to [sic] coming back to serve her city.”

In Austin, Broadnax will oversee a $5.5 billion budget and more than 16,000 employees — roughly 3,000 more than are employed by the City of Dallas. But its population (about 975,000) is smaller than that of Dallas (around 1.3 million). Since Broadnax’s arrival in 2017, Dallas’ budget has increased from $3.2 billion to $4.6 billion.

Still, residents have become frustrated about the direction Dallas is headed, especially related to public safety, street maintenance, homelessness, and vagrancy — some of the same issues that concern Austin residents.

Neither Broadnax nor Dallas City Council members responded to messages seeking comment about Broadnax’s selection in Austin.

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