Automated Trash Petition Ruled Insufficient

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Fort Smith City Clerk Sherri Gard has deemed insufficient a petition seeking to place an automated trash proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Organizers have 10 days to gather 10 more valid voter signatures and to address two legal problems with the petition’s language.

Joel Culberson led the effort — Vote for Automated — that collected 3,340 signatures in just 62 days to meet the legal goal of 2,822 valid voter signatures. He submitted those signatures to Gard on Aug. 8.

Culberson launched the effort in June following a 4-3 vote by the Fort Smith Board of Directors to suspend the program and keep manual collection to alleyways. The city’s Department of Sanitation has automated 24,578 households, with 4,095 remaining.

However, on June 5, the Fort Smith Board of Directors votes 4-3 to exclude several neighborhoods from fully-automated trash collection. The controversial vote stemmed primarily from a vocal group of residents who said the automated system was too much of an inconvenience for their older neighborhoods. Department of Sanitation Director Baridi Nkokheli said a fully automated city could see trash rates decline by more than $1 a month, but a hybrid system would not allow for the savings to pass on a rate decrease. Read the full story from our partners at