Town of Fort Smith fires senior administrative officer

Last modified: April 27, 2023 at 4:42pm

The Town of Fort Smith’s council has voted to remove its senior administrative officer, Cynthia White, with immediate effect.

At a special meeting on Thursday afternoon, streamed on YouTube, town councillors appeared to vote unanimously to dismiss White. No explanation was given.

A motion read out at the meeting called for a vote to “terminate the employment of senior administrative officer Cynthia White effective immediately.”


No councillor could be heard opposing that motion.

Reached by phone, deputy mayor Jay MacDonald said: “It’s an HR issue. All I can say is that the town relieved the SAO of her duties effective immediately, but I really can’t comment any further on it.”

Asked if residents would be informed about what happened at a later date, MacDonald said no.

More broadly, he said: “We’re working on a plan that we have in place, but I really don’t want to go into details at this particular instant, so quickly. But we will have something out hopefully next week on where we’re going from here.”

White had been the town’s senior administrator since May 2021.


“I wasn’t a good fit for them,” White told Cabin Radio by phone after the decision had been taken.

“I dedicated myself to the town. I think the staff would say I was making great progress, but council didn’t think I was a good fit for the mandate.”

The town made no reference to White’s departure on its Facebook page on Thursday, but did post a notice advising residents that seniors would continue to be fully exempt from municipal property taxes.

Whether that would change had been a contentious issue at a public meeting held last year, as the town tried to fill a hole in its 2023 budget.


At the time, MacDonald told residents the seniors’ exemption costs the town $212,000 in tax revenue annually – the equivalent, he said, of a 5.72-percent tax hike for all other property owners.

MacDonald said the town council had already decided to stop paying school taxes on behalf of seniors. He said the sustainability of the seniors’ tax relief program was in question, with 23 percent of town properties now enrolled in the program – a four-percent increase since 2016 and a group expected to grow as the territory’s population ages.

Mayor Fred Daniels called the issue “a touchy situation.” Thursday’s notice appears to confirm that the exemption will remain unchanged.