There will be no fluoride referendum in Holmen this spring.
The Holmen Village Board voted 4-3 against holding a second fluoride referendum at its Dec. 12 meeting, with Village President Nancy Proctor casting a rare tie-breaking vote. The board then voted 6-1 for a resolution affirming the 2008 referendum on fluoridation as binding. Board member Dawn Kulcinski was the lone “no” vote.
Several board members spoke against second-guessing the 2008 referendum result. Bill Ebner spoke most strongly against a repeat referendum, saying he doesn’t see it as a fluoride issue, but as an matter of several “disgruntled” board members who “didn’t agree with what (a former) board did and who didn’t agree with what the voters said.”
Ebner also said he wanted to stand by the binding referendum to head off further attempts to flip the result. Otherwise, he said he feared there might be not only a second referendum, but a third. “Does it become a never-ending story?”
Board attorney Alan Peterson advised the board that a binding referendum is “only binding to a board that (respects) it as binding,” and the resolution served as a signal that this board does respect it.
Ebner noted Holmen already has invested $140,000 in fluoridation, mainly in designing and installing infrastructure at village wells to be able to add fluoride.
Public Works Director Dean Olson said he doubted any money could be recouped if the village decided to scrap fluoridation and sell the equipment.
Board member Doug Jorstad concurred with Ebner. “I think we have to honor the binding referendum from 2008,” he said.
But first, board members Ryan Olson and Neal Forde voted with fluoride foe Kulcinski in favor of giving voters a second chance to consider the issue. Olson and Forde said they voted for a repeat referendum to uphold their pledge made to three former anti-fluoride board members to hold another vote.
Holding a second referendum was a “compromise with board members who are no longer on the board,” Olson said. “I don’t feel its right to go back on my word to them.”
Olson also mentioned that he has heard criticism that results of the 2008 referendum were never written into village code.
Village Administrator Scott Heinig said the resolution affirming the 2008 vote as binding also requires it be codified in village ordinance, indicating that a draft ordinance could come to the board next month for first reading and could be voted into law in February.
“Hopefully, (putting it into an ordinance) would put this discussion to bed,” Olson said.