Whether to add fluoride to the city’s water supply will be left up to the public at the April 3 city election.
At today’s meeting of the McPherson City Commission, commissioners declined to sign an ordinance that would have immediately directed the Board of Public Utilities to add fluoridation to the water.
The ordinance had been presented, along with a petition, from the McPherson Partners for Better Oral Health earlier this month. By law, commissioners either must sign the ordinance within 20 days or the question is to be taken up a public city election.
Today, each of the city commissioners noted they had personal questions about the wisdom of fluoridating the entire city’s water when only a few would benefit from it and they each said they believed this was an issue the public should decide.
Mayor Vern Dossett said that, with the exception of the group presenting the petition, all responses he had received to the question have been negative. He said he respects the need for fluoride, but believes fluoride supplements should be prescribed by a doctor or dentist. To mass fluoridate the water supply to achieve the desired effect is very inefficient and wasteful, he added, noting he had been advised that it could cost up to $100,000 annually to test the system and keep it operational.
Dossett added that the city would be interested in looking at a program that would direct fluoride to those individuals who have need of it, rather than what he termed “mass medication.”
“But, I believe the public needs to make this decision,” Dossett said.
Commissioners instructed city staff to begin work to get the question on the ballot for the April 3 city election.
Commissioners also made plans for the public hearing on the fluoridation issue, scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Community Building. When persons arrive, they will be asked to sign if they wish to speak.
Pro and con speakers will be alternated, with a limit of three minutes per person. The meeting will be limited to 2 1/2 hours.
If, at the end of that time, commissioners believe there are still issues to be heard, they may schedule another public meeting.