Fluoride Action Network

73.21% of Manila residents vote against fluoridation

Source: The Eureka Reporter | February 6th, 2008 | By CERENA JOHNSON

The final election night results are in for two local measures that were before Manila and Arcata voters.

Although absentee ballots are still being counted, the Humboldt County Elections Office’s final report issued Tuesday indicates Measure B, failed while Measure A was passed.

Measure B, which asked Manila voters whether they would like the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District to add fluoride to the community water supply should the district decide to implement fluoridation, failed by a landslide with 73.21 percent voting no.

“With this vote, the citizens of Manila have made their wishes perfectly clear in regards to freedom of choice,” said Liz Finger, co-chair of the No on Measure B Committee.

“In talking to voters during this campaign, I repeatedly heard that if people choose to have fluoride they can get it through their toothpaste, mouth rinse, tablets or drops,” she said. “They respect their neighbors’ right to choose what they ingest through their water. We only hope that the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District board will respect Manila’s decision in rejecting fluoridation.”

Manila resident Colleen Clifford said she was against the measure.

“I definitely don’t support fluoridation of the water supply,” she said.

“Freedom of choice is such a big part of that for me,” Clifford added. “Fluoride in general, I think, has so much controversy surrounding it.”

Clifford said new evidence is being produced that shows the benefits of fluoride are not strong, and said fluoride could have harmful side effects.

Through the months leading up to Tuesday’s election, those against water fluoridation have cited numerous studies which indicate negative effects of fluoride, such as bone fractures, impacts on IQ, cancer, thyroid problems and brain damage.

Many also noted the American Dental Association’s advisory that children up to one year of age should not drink fluoridated water or ingest it through baby formula.

HBMWD General Manager Carol Rische said now the Manila Community Services District will need to provide the water district with its decision.

After HBMWD receives input from the rest of its municipal customers considering fluoridation, the governing board will make the final decision.

In Arcata, Measure A, which continues the city’s utility user tax for an additional eight years, passed with 60.16 percent of the votes.

City officials said the tax will be vital to continue funding many of Arcata’s programs.

“The people of Arcata have consistently shown that they support it in good numbers,” said Councilmember Michael Machi.

The city first adopted a utility users tax in 1993, in part to offset losses to the general fund.

Arcata voters approved the tax again in 1996, 2000 and 2004.

Currently, a 3 percent tax exists on communication services, electrical energy services, gas services, water and wastewater services.

The tax was scheduled to expire in November.

Under Measure A, the utility user tax will continue, beginning on Dec. 1.

The tax will now also include non-cable communication services as subject taxation.

Additionally, the cap for services users will increase from $1,000 to $1,500 per fiscal year

On July 1, 2010, the tax will be adjusted based on the Consumer Price Index, which reflects changes on the average prices paid by consumers for goods and services.

Without the utility user tax, Machi said it “would have been a very significant cut in many different areas.”

“Of course, we are all very happy that it passed over here at the city of Arcata,” said City Manager Michael Hackett.

The utility user tax generates $715,000 for the city’s general fund yearly.

Hackett said continuation of the tax will ensure funding is preserved for items covered by the general fund, such as street maintenance, parks, patrols, recreation programs, neighborhood watch programs and a number of other services.