Cheryl Eversole, director of the Dallas County Health Department, believes the city of Buffalo owes the department $4,666.77. Members of the Buffalo Board of Aldermen, however, say the city doesn’t owe anything. In fact, the board took no action at its monthly meeting Monday night.
In a July 30 letter to the Board of Aldermen, Eversole, a strong advocate of fluoride, expressed disappointment in the aldermen’s recent decision to no longer use fluoride in the city’s water. This action followed survey results showing that Buffalo residents and businesses favored getting rid of fluoride by more than a 2 to 1 margin — 218 to 95.
“I am so disappointed by the actions of the board concerning the health of the residents and visitors here in Buffalo,” Eversole wrote in her letter. “Dental disease is the #1 disease in our children and it is so preventable with community water fluoridation. Community water fluoridation is one of the top ten achievements in public health in the 20th century.”
Eversole wrote that after taking a closer look at expenses, the city of Buffalo has overbilled the Dallas County Health Department.
“As per the 2004 agreement, the city of Buffalo was to bill the health department for one half the cost up to $1,000 per year,” she wrote. Instead, she said the health department was billed and paid $14,666.47 over the past 10 years when it should have been billed just $10,000.
“That does not include the amount we paid for equipment for the city to add proper amounts of fluoride to the water supply,” Eversole wrote. “The amount should have been $10,000, therefore we are due a refund for overpayment in the amount of $4,666.77.”
City officials have a different interpretation of the agreement, however. They say the agreement was for the health department to pay the city $1,000 per year plus up to half the cost of supplies and other items related to the use of fluoride.
The agreement reads, in part, “The Dallas County Health Department, thereinafter referred to as Health Department, agrees to pay up to $1,000 per year for fluoride.” Later, though, the agreement states, “The city agrees to invoice the Health Department monthly and submit copies of invoices from supplies for no more than half the cost associated with the fluoride treatment.”
Alderman Brandon Kenall, who was in charge of the fluoride survey, said the decision to no longer use fluoride in the city’s water was made by Buffalo citizens by a wide margin.
“The letter should have been written to the citizens of Buffalo,” he said.
Kenall stressed that while he believes the health department provides many valuable services, he doesn’t believe the city owes the department any money.
“The language of the agreement is clear,” he said. “I won’t vote to pay this bill.”
No one made a motion to pay the bill, so no action was taken.
Eversole’s final paragraph read: “I hope this issue will be revisited and your current decision changed to continue watching for our most vulnerable population – our leaders of tomorrow are the kids we can help today.”
In other action…