Alleged open meeting violation results in lawsuit filed by Fort Smith attorney
Fort Smith attorney Joey McCutchen filed suit on behalf of his client Kristin Kitchens against the City of Fort Smith alleging that the City violated the open-meetings provision of the Freedom of Information Act.
The Complaint and Amended Complaint allege that the Fort Smith Board of Directors engaged in secret meetings by way of one-on-one conversations between City Clerk Sherri Gard, and voted against two proposals related to a 0.75% Sales and Use Tax.
The Board of Directors privately rejected a proposal which would have given a percentage of the money collected by the tax to the parks department. The vote constituted an informal meeting and illegal vote which was not public and for which no notice was given.
McCutchen said, “The City has stated that they have already paid 300 million dollars toward the Consent Decree and apparently still owe north of 600 million dollars. It is their intent to generate 150 million dollars through a new sales tax which will be on the ballot on February 8, 2021.
Any discussions or votes regarding a special election that will affect the pocket books of the citizens of Fort Smith should be held in the light of day and not in private/secret meetings.”
McCutchen added, “This illegal vote comes on the heels of the City Board claiming that the details of the Consent Decree cannot be disclosed due to a confidentiality agreement. And now the City Board has attempted an end-run around FOIA by secretly voting on this tax proposal.”
You can read the complaint by clicking on the file below: