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Outgoing Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax Is a Finalist for Austin’s Top Job

Broadnax announced his resignation five days before the deadline to apply for Austin city manager. Now, he is one of three finalists for the job.
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t c broadnax dallas city manager
Jonathan Zizzo

Updated at 4:50 p.m to include Broadnax’s ranking among all the candidates for Austin city manager.

T.C. Broadnax is one of three finalists for the open city manager position in Austin.

The City Hall rumor mill had been churning with speculation that Dallas’ outgoing city manager planned to apply for the open job in the Capitol city after announcing his resignation last month. A discussion about hiring a new city manager appeared on the Austin City Council’s work session agenda this week. On Tuesday afternoon, Austin Mayor Kirk Watson confirmed that Broadnax was a finalist, competing with Sara Hensley of Denton and Brian Platt of Kansas City, Missouri.

Austin NBC affiliate KXAN reported Tuesday that documents indicate that the city’s search firm ranked Broadnax as the most qualified of the applicants.

Broadnax has not responded to a request for comment after the news broke in Austin. The three finalists will travel to Austin March 25 to meet with city staff and conduct a town hall meeting with the public. The City Council and the mayor will interview them in executive session March 26. The city expects to vote on directing its search firm to negotiate contract terms during its April 2 meeting. Broadnax has said his last day in Dallas will be June 3.

Watson said the city had 39 applicants, and Tuesday’s agenda item allowed the Council to review them in executive session. From there, the Council narrowed the field to a short list of three. “We have additional time identified later this month and in early April for candidate interviews and a community town hall with final candidates,” Watson said.

During that town hall, Austin residents will be able to hear from each candidate and ask questions. “With this timeline, I feel confident that we can have our new city manager identified in April,” Watson said.

City manager searches are often opaque. The public is notified of the search and the firm hired to conduct it, but the names of applicants are rarely publicized before finalists are announced. However, a recording between Jeff Mihelich, the city manager of Bozeman, Montana, and a colleague offered more insight into Austin’s search. Mihelich said a headhunter had contacted him during Austin’s search and offered a base salary of $475,000 plus additional allowances for transportation and housing. He was apparently not a fan of the Austin city government, calling it a “shitshow.”

“There’s no way a city like that operates as it should,” Mihelich said.

The city would not confirm that salary range but did tell CBS Austin that the pay was “contingent upon several factors,” including whether it is comparable to other cities’ pay with a similar council-manager form of government. Broadnax’s salary in Dallas is $423,246. 

Austin’s search began more than a year ago, after the firing of Spencer Cronk, who was blamed for the city’s lackluster response to a 2023 winter freeze that knocked out power for thousands of homes and businesses. The prior year, the Council gave Cronk an 11 percent raise, which brought his salary to $338,190. 

Former City Manager Jesús Garza was appointed as interim in February 2023. But he stepped in it, too. He was widely criticized in January after offering a high-paying interim assistant city manager job to former Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. He was tapped to be a liaison between city leaders and the police department; but Acevedo’s prior tenure in Austin was marked by controversy, including failures at his crime lab and exaggerated case closure statistics.

Austin’s Council publicly and privately addressed their frustrations with his hiring, and other officials, such as Travis County District Attorney José Garza, also spoke out against the decision.

“We have to remember that just over five years ago, survivors of sexual assault were forced to sue the city [including Acevedo] because those officials failed to adequately investigate and prosecute the crimes committed against them,” he said.

Acevedo eventually backed out.

Austin extended the search period from February 12 to February 26. Broadnax told his bosses of his intention to resign on February 21. According to reporting by WFAA, his announcement came after eight council members worked behind the scenes to formally request his resignation. That move could trigger a clause in his contract allowing him to receive a full year’s salary as severance. 

Much like in Dallas, whoever gets the Austin gig will have plenty of work to do. Both cities will enter their new budgeting cycles this summer. In Dallas, the budget discussion typically becomes a debate about setting on a property tax rate that gives homeowners relief while not having to reduce services. In Austin, city staff told the council last month that sales tax revenue had unexpectedly fallen, putting the city behind the projected income it needs to sustain the $5.5 billion budget it approved last summer. The budgets under Broadnax have been balanced.

Austin’s new boss will grapple with ongoing conflict around the expansion of I-35, similar to how Dallas worked through the fate of I-345. Both cities are faced with managing and finding affordable housing options. Like Dallas, Austin is also reviewing its charter in preparation for a potential November election.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson

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Bethany Erickson is the senior digital editor for D Magazine. She's written about real estate, education policy, the stock market, and crime throughout her career, and sometimes all at the same time. She hates lima beans and 5 a.m. and takes SAT practice tests for fun.
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