The Monroe City Council on Tuesday will address the issue of fluoridation in the city’s drinking water system for the first time since voters killed the idea 16 years ago.
After hearing two hours of public opinion on the issue before a crowd of about 100 people at its last meeting two weeks ago, City Council members Arthur Gilmore and Robert Johnson told other council members they would not support the issue if it were not tabled. The two attorneys said they had questions on litigation stemming from fluoridated drinking water in municipalities.
The council will address the issue during at its 7 p.m. regular council meeting at Monroe City Hall.
In addition to divided opinion in the community, council members are also at separate ends of the spectrum.
At the last meeting, Councilman Ben Katz said he decided to support the issue after extensive research with local experts in the medical and dental fields.
“I’ve spent as much time on this as I have any other issue in my 18 months on the council,” Katz said during the hearing. “It all boils down to support of the doctors and dentists. I trust my doctors implicitly.”
Council Chairman Red Stevens said he doesn’t support the City Council deciding whether fluoride should be added to the drinking water. Stevens said he believes citizens should make the decision rather than government.
“For us to take action on this means we would be dictating to the citizens what they should do,” Stevens said. “The biggest thing we’ve fought for in the country was to have a choice, to have a voice.”
In 1984, the City Council voted in favor of fluoridation. Implementation of the program was stalled when a formed group petitioned 25 percent of registered voters in the city to overturn the ordinance. The city charter calls for a repeal of the ordinance or a referendum on the issue.
In 1985, voters defeated the proposition by 13 votes.
Several dentists addressed the City Council last month on the benefits of adding fluoride to the water system and pointed out the U.S. Surgeon General and the Centers for Disease Control have recommended the municipal use of fluoride. Opponents of the issue claim fluoridated water causes severe health problems.