No one in Middletown’s town government argues the benefits of offering fluoride in the town’s water supply.
But the town is grappling with whether or not it is cost-prohibitive in the budget to do so.
With a vote scheduled for May 8, the town held another public meeting for residents to offer perspective on the issue.
In 2015, the town learned that certain areas, specifically the Brookridge South and Glenbrook subdivisions, do not receive the recommended levels of fluoride in their water supply. The two subdivisions include about 450 homes.
So the town has contemplated having fluoride injection systems installed this year and budgeted $60,000 for the project. But there is no room to install the system at the well, because the town installed an iron and manganese removal system earlier this fiscal year.
The town would have to pay $30,000 to build an addition that would allow the town to put in the fluoride injection system.
The initial $90,000 startup costs are coupled with maintenance costs of nearly $23,000 a year.
Burgess John Miller said the town intends to provide fluoride at all three water treatment facilities or at none of them. The town could actually save money on operating costs of the injection system if it chooses not to offer fluoride at all.
Complicating matters more for the town is that it recently realized its lone water treatment facility that offers fluoride had 200 feet of pipe clog because of a reaction between the fluoride and the other chemicals that are injected in the water.
The pipe took almost 15 years to clog, but Town Administrator Drew Bowen said the same reaction would happen at the other facilities. Because of where the town would have to place the injection system, however, it would not be able to dig up the pipe and it would become a more costly problem to solve, Commissioner Jennifer Falcinelli said.
Michael Virts, a dentist who lives in Middletown, said the tax increase would cost taxpayers slightly more than $20 per month. Buying fluoride costs roughly $65 per year for a non-insured family, Virts said.
“While I’m a dentist and I’m totally for fluoride, I can absolutely understand the concerns of the town in this instance,” Virts said.
The current town budget Miller has proposed does not include a water rate increase, but that would change if the town chooses to add fluoride injection systems.
• Original article online at https://www.fredericknewspost.com/news/politics_and_government/levels_of_government/municipal/middletown-wrestles-with-budget-concerns-on-fluoride-issue/article_30388b6a-e458-5573-86fa-b2b638d37359.html