A Conversation With Dallas’ Next City Manager

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DALLAS (CBS11) – Incoming Dallas city manager T.C. Broadnax acknowledges he’s got a lot of work waiting for him when he starts his new job February 1.

“I’m excited, looking forward to working with the city council,” said Broadnax.

Mayor Mike Rawlings and city council members chose Broadnax, currently the city manager of Tacoma, Washington over assistant Dallas city manager Mark McDaniel and three other candidates.

“I think if there’s one thing I bring, it is fresh eyes, a fresh perspective from outside this community,” said Broadnax.

One of the most immediate problems he’ll face is to help develop a solution to the police and fire pension fund that could run out of money in the next ten years.

“Taxpayers may be ultimately responsible for picking up a tab,” said Broadnax. “We’ve got to figure out how to get a fair and balanced approach. As I said, everyone has to sit at the table. It’s really going to take people sitting down and really find ways to maybe do some things that may not be right on the onset in their best interest, but for the long-term solvency of the fund.”

One of the most important jobs he said he’ll have to fill is police chief.

Broadnax said when he arrives, he’ll begin a nationwide search to succeed David Brown immediately.

“I’m looking for someone that has a high degree of integrity, someone that has vast experience in leading a large operation like the city of Dallas police department and someone who is committed to community-oriented policing.”

Dallas’ police associations occasionally butted heads with Brown.

When asked if the chief and associations must get along, Broadnax answered, “That should be a goal. Obviously, if you’re leading any group, you want to ensure that people support you and are on-board with the direction you’re taking, whether the city or the department. You don’t sit in any leadership role and expect everyone to agree with the decisions you make or your approaches. But hopefully you will be given the respect and latitude to ensure you can lead your organization.”

Broadnax received praise from the Mayor and council members after he toured parts of the city on his own time, including South Dallas around Fair Park and West Dallas.

He did so while he and the other finalists visited the city during the final interviewing process.

Broadnax told CBS11 he was disappointed with the conditions of some of the neighborhoods, specifically outside storage.

He said it’s something he will address.

City leaders are also very concerned about reducing the number of homeless.

A recent report by the Dallas Commission on Homelessness identified 3,904 people who were homeless in the city.

The same report found there was a 24 percent increase in the number of homeless in Dallas County in 2016 from the year before.

According to the city, Dallas leads the nation in the number of children living in poverty.

The city’s police department says there are more than 50 homeless encampments within the city limits

Broadnax said he agreed with the report’s recommendations that call for a comprehensive approach by all involved.

“We have to get those groups at the table to figure out how all those pieces are connected from the in-take to what comes out the other end, to ensure we’re not duplicating services and creating a lot of excess and administrative expenses and we can really put the dollars to work for the people.”

He pointed to one of the initiatives he says they began in Tacoma. “Looking at some alternatives to how we deal with sheltering, maybe some facilities that go dark in the evenings, finding a way to repurpose some of those. We’ve been successful in doing some of that.”

After dealing with the city’s most urgent needs, Broadnax said he also wants to put in place a ten year vision and strategic plan.

Traditionally, the Dallas city manager has had an annual strategic plan based on input from city council members.

But recently the city changed that and is now operating under the fiscal year 2015-2017 plan.

Broadnax says there’s a reason he prefers longer-term plans. “Finding a way to share with the community that we might not be able to get it all done in one year or two years, but here is our plan that takes me out five to ten years, that hopefully, when we get to the other side, you can say job well done city.”

The city’s crumbling streets need hundreds of millions of dollars in fixes.

Broadnax said everywhere he’s worked including, Tacoma and San Antonio, he’s heard residents complain about the streets. “Everyone has that criticism and so I find myself going to other communities and thinking wow, our streets aren’t that bad, no matter where I’m at.”

That said, Broadnax said it’s important for the city to continue investing in its streets.

He came to Dallas this week to meet with council members, and he says he’ll return here before he leaves his job in Washington State later next month.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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