Apr 4, 2024 - Politics

Austin council to vote on new city manager

Illustration of Austin City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Austin City Hall. Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The Austin City Council is poised Thursday to name T.C. Broadnax, Dallas city manager for the past seven years, as Austin's new city manager.

Why it matters: The city manager is basically the city CEO, carrying out the legislative and policy objectives of the elected council members.

  • The city manager prepares and executes Austin's $5.5 billion budget and oversees a city staff of more than 16,000 employees.

Catch up quick: Austin's last full-time city manager, Spencer Cronk, was fired after the city's botched response to a winter storm last year that left hundreds of thousands of Austinites without power and amid tensions with City Council members over police union negotiations.

Between the lines: Citing her reputation for accessibility, some city employee unions had favored the other finalist, Sara Hensley, a former Austin city official who is currently the city manager of Denton.

  • In a public forum last month, Broadnax highlighted the creation of Dallas' first Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs; his efforts to shepherd unhoused people into housing; his long experience in city management; and his implementation of Dallas' racial equity initiatives.

What they're saying: "The scope of TC'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," Austin Council Member Leslie Pool said on a city message board last month.

  • Broadnax currently has a base salary of around $423,000 in Dallas, and Cronk's base salary was nearly $388,000, per the American-Statesman.
  • Starting date and pay will be the subject of negotiation in the coming days.

What's next: Broadnax will be expected to reach a long-term contract with the police union, address homelessness and figure out a way to exit the coal-burning Fayette Power Plant, all City Council priorities.

Our Dallas colleague Tasha's thought bubble: Broadnax has been an elusive, behind-the-scenes figure in Dallas politics, occasionally drawing ire from City Council members but never quite enough to be fired.

  • He was pretty scandal-free, managed a decent budget and weathered flighty Dallas politicians. But, in the end, it's not really clear if the city is better for his tenure.
  • Ultimately, he was allowed to resign and will likely receive a Dallas severance before his fresh start in Austin.
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