CORNING — Corning voters will decide in November 2008 whether to bar the city from fluoridating its water.
The Corning City Council, in an 8-0 vote Monday, sent an anti-fluoridation proposal to the Steuben County Board of Elections for inclusion on the ballot next year.
The council also voted unanimously to place a moratorium on spending for fluoridation until after the referendum.
Kirk Huttleston of Corning, who led the petition campaign that forced the referendum, thanked council members for support of his effort.
“Even the aggravations have been helpful to me in understanding how this all works,” Huttleston said.
City Clerk Rose Blackwell ruled that the petitions contained 320 valid signatures — 14 more than the 306 required to put the issue on the ballot.
Dr. Thomas Curran of Elmira, a member of the Coalition on Fluoridation and a former Corning dentist, said the group wants to examine the petitions to determine whether they contain enough valid signatures.
The City Council voted 7-1 in May to add fluoride to the city’s water supply to reduce the incidence of tooth decay. It has not taken any action toward carrying out the project.
City Manager Mark Ryckman said that despite Monday’s vote, he will continue planning for fluoridation.
“My direction from the council still stands,” he said. “I’m to keep proceeding without spending any funds. I can do research and give direction to the staff.”
Chad Moore of Corning, who helped with the petition drive, suggested that the city use the money it would have spent for fluoridation to address the problem of tooth decay in children.
Mayor Frank Coccho said he will ask the city’s Board of Health to look at the issue and make a recommendation to the council. A program targeting dental health for low-income children, supported by a $250,000 grant, is scheduled to start in four Elmira schools, Curran said.
“It goes hand-in-hand with fluoridation,” he said.