Independence City Council members say they are confident in letting the people decide the fluoride issue.
The council gave initial approval Monday to placing the item on the Nov. 4 ballot. The council could give final approval in two weeks.
Although council members indicated their support to allow the ballot issue, they altered the ballot language. The language will now indicate the issue is to “increase the fluoride level of the public water supply,” and not to “augment the natural fluoride level” as was stated in the agenda Friday.
At the request of council members, City Manager Larry Blick said the language should be changed so the voters are not confused about the makeup of the fluoride compound being proposed for the city’s water supply.
“Since this will be ballot language we thought it would be better to use the word ‘increase’ just in case somebody might misunderstand the ballot language,” Blick said, “And secondly, we’re concerned with grade. The word ‘natural’ could confuse an elector (voter) into not being clear that we actually use chemicals to increase the fluoridation content of the water.”
Council members received a memo from city Health Department Director Larry Jones, outlining the difference in fluoride compounds recognized by the American Dental Association.
“There is a difference,” Jones wrote. “All of the chemicals used in the United States for water fluoridation, sodium fluoride, sodium fluorosilicate and fluorosilicic acid, are useful byproducts of the phosphate fertilizer industry. The fluoride chemicals which are used in toothpaste are sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride and monofluorophosphate fluoride.”
Mayor Ron Stewart acknowledged the two sides to the issue and said the ballot language should be impartial.
Council Member John Perkins said the language on the ballot should name the specific chemical being used, but Blick disagreed.
“It’s possible over the years, if this should pass, the specific compound that is used to fluoridate the water could change,” Blick said, “And that is why using the specific name would lock us in.”
Council members moved 6-0 in favor of the change in ballot language.
Council Member Charlie Rich was absent.