The question of whether or not to add fluoride to Chadron’s water supply will be placed before voters in the Nov. 4 general election, but at least one Chadron city council member is concerned that the wording of the question may be confusing.
When you vote a ‘yes’ means ‘no’ and ‘no’ means ‘yes,’” council member Don Thompson said during discussion of the issue at Monday’s meeting.
A legislative bill that requires all Nebraska communities over 1,000 population to add fluoride to their water supply, or allow residents to opt out of the requirement through an election, is responsible for bringing the issue to Chadron. Treatment with the chemical is viewed as an effective way to improve dental health, but some people believe it also has negative health consequences.
Chadron voters faced a similar decision in 1978, and rejected fluoridation. The city’s water already contains some naturally occurring fluoride, but not enough to meet state standards.
The wording of a resolution placed before the council to set up the November vote worried Thompson, who said the state statute calls for placing an actual ordinance on the ballot. “We are proposing to place the question on the ballot,” he said.
Because of the semantic discrepancy, it is also unclear if the council could vote to overrule the result of the election, said Thompson. “If we get the authority to pass an ordinance, is it a mandate?” he asked.
But the resolution was prepared by the Nebraska League of Municipalities, and is being used by other communities, said city clerk Donna Rust. And a search of records from 1978 showed that the resolution used to set up that vote on fluoridation was very similar to the current one, she said.
Thompson’s motion to table the matter for more research failed to win a majority, however, and he voted with the other council members to put the measure on the ballot.
A different water issue-how to handle the city’s storm water drainage- also confronted the council Monday, as it considered a storm water management plan prepared by the Leo A. Daly engineering firm.
The management plan includes recommendations for more than $40 million worth of work on the city’s drainage system, but the accepting the plan doesn’t commit the city to any specific project, said planning official Janet Johnson. “Most of the projects are pretty spendy,” she said. City officials will prioritize projects from the list before bringing them to the council said Johnson, with the ones that impact the state’s planned work on Highway 20 likely to be first on the list. Even those projects won’t be done immediately, however, and will probably not be budgeted until 2010.
That led Thompson to ask if the numbers in the report include a consideration for inflation that can be expected before the projects are underway. An attempt was made to factor in some increases in costs, replied Johnson.
While costs are a major consideration, the numbers included in the plan will be useful for the city as it applies for federal grants that are available to help with storm water projects, said Public Works director Milo Rust.
In a related issue, the council approved on first reading an ordinance that adopts the engineering design requirements for storm water drainage facilities, and a site plan review application process for developers and property owners. Most residential projects won’t be affected by the engineering requirements, said Johnson, but the site plan review forms will be helpful in keeping owners informed of how their actions may impact the city’s drainage system. “Currently we don’t have a very effective process,” she said. “This way we have to go through a review process so we can talk to them about what they are doing.”
Although no one spoke about the measure, council members said they would like to have public comment on the issue, which will be considered on second reading July 7…