Fort Smith Board Implements Policy To Review City Administrator Hiring Decisions

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — The Fort Smith Board of Directors narrowly passed a resolution at its regular meeting Tuesday (Sept. 3) that will change policy in how the city administrator hires department heads.

The resolution states, “Prior to the City Administrator completing an appointment … for the employment by the City of Fort Smith of a department head, including the chiefs of the police and fire departments, and prior to public announcement of the City’s Administrator’s appointment, an executive session of the Board of Directors will be held for the purpose of considering the appointment for employment.”

The ordinance was specifically worded by City Attorney Jerry Canfield to comply with the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. When Director Lavon Morton (Ward 3) requested the resolution Aug. 28, the request was to add “a resolution that the City adopt a policy whereby the city administrator discusses with the Board in executive session at a regular or special meeting employment decisions related to department heads prior to the final decision and public release thereof,” a memo from the clerk’s office said.

Canfield said if the purpose was for the city administrator to inform the board of his decision, it would be a violation of FOIA rules. Just to share information must be done openly. But if the purpose of the executive session is to “consider” employment, it is allowed.

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