Altes Sanitation to lose residential contract in Fort Smith

The Fort Smith Department of Sanitation will gear up to provide trash service to about 4,700 households in south Fort Smith who now have their trash picked up by Altes Sanitation.

With a 5-2 vote, the Fort Smith Board of Directors ended on Tuesday (Nov. 3) the lengthy and sometimes controversial debate as to who will provide sanitation service to about 4,700 households in south Fort Smith. Presently, Altes is the only third-party trash service handling residential waste in Fort Smith, with the DOS handling 82%, or the other 20,820 accounts

The contract with Altes ends June 30, 2010, and by law the city has two broad options: it can hand the service to the Fort Smith DOS; or the city could open the contract for a open bid by all trash haulers interested in the large account.

The Fort Smith DOS and several city directors have said the want all citizens to have access to the more modern trash pick up service provided by the Fort Smith DOS. Also, the Fort Smith DOS is able to pick up all collections — recycle, regular trash, and yard trash — on one day with one automated truck. The primary benefit of this is that citizens only have to remember one day on which to set out trash.

To reject Altes Sanitation is unfair, especially following an early 2007 survey of the citizens in the area in which 81.7% said they were satisfied with Altes, according to Fort Smith attorney Joey McCutchen

“It’s the will of the people. The people have spoken,” McCutchen said of the 2007 survey, adding that now the city has changed the argument to push the case that citizens need consistent service.

McCutchen said the Altes family has felt “ambushed” by the city in this process.

City Director Bill Maddox said the city should not be “taking over private enterprise,” adding that Altes has bought new equipment and can provide the same quality of service as the Fort Smith DOS.

“I think this is greed on the city’s part,” Maddox said. “I just cannot accept that the city is going to destroy a portion of the private enterprise.”

Maddox moved to table the vote for 30 days, with City Director Don Hutchings seconding. However, the vote failed on a 5-2 vote, with only Maddox and Hutchings in favor.

City Directors Gary Campbell, Cole Goodman and Kevin Settle then made the point that the city’s decision was not about Altes, but was about the city’s legal options at the end of the contract. City Attorney Jerry Canfield said the law is clear that the contract has to be put up for open bid and does not automatically go to Altes.

City Director Steven Tyler moved to adopt a resolution “directing that the city of Fort Smith Department of Sanitation provide residential solid waste services to the entire city.” City Director Andre Good seconded. The motion was approved 5-2, with Hutchings and Maddox voting no.

McCutchen told The City Wire that Altes may consider legal action against the city.

“We’re going to be looking at it closely,” he said, noting that a decision would be made by the first of the year.