Fort Smith sanitation director fired by city administrator

by Aric Mitchell ( 1,630 views 

Fort Smith Sanitation Director Mark Schlievert has been terminated. While no reason was given, it likely relates to recent controversy over the city sending recyclables to the landfill.

On Wednesday (May 10), Talk Business & Politics was forwarded an email from Fort Smith City Administrator Carl Geffken to Mayor Sandy Sanders and the Board of Directors noting, “This afternoon at 1pm, I terminated Mark Schlievert, Director of Sanitation. If you have any questions, please call me.”

Geffken did not provide a reason for termination, so it is not known whether the termination relates to the recent reveal that the sanitation department had spent an estimated $680,000 running unnecessary recycling routes during a 10-month period from June 27, 2016-May 1, 2017.

Previously the city had been allowed to transfer recyclables to Green Source Recycling Center in Clarksville, Ark., at no cost beyond the cost to transport. Green Source Director Justin Sparrow said the center decided to stop taking Fort Smith’s materials because it did not have the capacity to process materials due to the manner in which it was received, while also serving its nine-county district. The center opted instead to take “higher quality materials” from neighboring Russellville, Ark., Sparrow said.

On May 1, the city noted in a press release recyclables had been landfilled from November 2016-Present. Talk Business & Politics later discovered the actual time had been 10 months – with landfilling beginning in late June.

Mark Schlievert

Schlievert has worked as the city’s sanitation director for just over a year. Schlievert’s first day on the job was April 18, 2016, and his annual salary is $85,000. The job had been open since Dec. 7, 2015 when Dingman fired Baridi Nkokheli “for violation of personnel policies and the code of business conduct.” Nkokheli, who held the job for more than 10 years and was a popular re-enactor of legendary U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves, said reasons for his termination are unfounded. Dingman said the violations were serious enough to warrant sudden dismissal and would stand up under scrutiny.

Talk Business & Politics was unable to reach Geffken by phone immediately following receipt of the email. This story is developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.