FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — According to a news release, Fort Smith attorney Joey McCutchen filed suit against the City of Fort Smith on behalf of Kristin Kitchens, alleging it violated the open-meetings provision of the Freedom of Information Act.
The Complaint and Amended Complaint allege the city’s Board of Directors engaged in “secret meetings” before voting against two proposals related to the 0.75% Sales and Use Tax, according to the release.
The Board also reportedly privately rejected a proposal which would have sent a percentage of the tax money to the Parks and Recreation Department.
The vote constituted a private meeting where the public was not notified, along with an illegal vote, the release 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 said.
The attorney also said the illegal vote comes soon after the city claiming details of the “Consent Decree” cannot be disclosed due to a confidentiality agreement.
The City of Fort Smith responded to the suit, saying “The removal or placement of items on an agenda by the Board is a process that the City has followed per the City’s Code of Ordinances. I believe a very similar lawsuit was brought against the City many years ago and the lawsuit was dismissed. Since there has been no communication about this alleged infraction, we will expend the time and money to defend the City against this lawsuit which we believe has no merit.”