By a slim margin of 65 votes, Corning City Council has lost the authority to decide whether to fluoridate the municipal water supply, according to unofficial election results Tuesday.
City residents voted 1,287 to 1,222 on Proposition 1 to take the authority to fluoridate the water supply out of the hands of City Council, unofficial results show.
“Obviously, if the City Council has no authority to act on fluoride, from my perspective, the issue has been handed to the people, and so we will not be acting on it,” Mayor Thomas Reed II said. “We’ll move on, I think, to bigger issues, dealing with our water, sewer, road and other infrastructure needs.”
Another petition would have to be submitted to amend the city charter to put the matter up for a public vote on whether to direct that fluoride be put in the water, he said.
City Council voted in November 2007 not to spend any money on fluoridation until the public voted on Proposition 1.
Modeled on a similar effort in Ithaca, the petition drive that forced Tuesday’s referendum was led by Kirk Huttleston of Corning. Efforts were unsuccessful late Tuesday to obtain comment from Huttleston.
The council voted in 2006 to fluoridate the water supply if $100,000 in grant money could be obtained to help pay the project’s $196,000 startup cost. A group headed by Dr. Thomas Curran of Elmira came up with the $100,000, and the council initially intended to go ahead with the project in May 2007.
Corning has debated fluoridation since at least the late 1970s. City Council considered the issue in 1978 and again in 1985 but no action was taken either time.