At a special study session on Monday, Feb. 11, the Sheridan City Council reviewed proposed resolution 6-19, authorizing implementation of a public opinion poll on fluoridation of the city’s drinking water.
Dan Roberts, city utilities director presented the resolution. He said the objective of the resolution is to obtain a comprehensive, secure and statistically valid public opinion vote toward the public’s desire to have fluoride in their drinking water.
Roberts proposed to use the city’s monthly utility billing system to implement the poll. He said it is considered a poll, as opposed to a survey, because it only has one question.
The poll would be distributed to approximately 12,400 recipients, including all residences and businesses within the City of Sheridan, Sheridan Area Water Services (SAWS) customers, and Downer Edition.
There would be one mailer, and therefore one vote, per mailing address. The mailer would be included with regular utility bills for typical city utility customers, saving cost on postage. All other customers would receive the mailer on its own.
The mailer would have information regarding the city’s fluoridation policies on one side and the poll on the other side, perforated to make it easy to detach and return in a postage-paid, self-addressed envelope.
In response to questions from the council regarding fraud, Roberts assured them the polls would be numbered and water marked. Roberts also recommended using a firm with state licensure to do tabulation and validation of the results.
The results of the poll would be reported to the city council in May before they have to pass a budget at the end of June, with or without appropriations for continuing the fluoridation program.
City Attorney Brendon Kerns advised that the poll provide the guiding principle when the council creates their budget.
Council President Clint Beaver stressed that the poll is really for their own information, and said he was uncomfortable with any wording that could be regarded as a statement of intent as a result of either a yes or no vote. He said it would be unwise to commit. Kerns explained that any content of the resolution would be at the council’s discretion and nothing in it could be forever binding.
Councilor Linden asked if there was any reason to not just stop fluoridating city water in the meantime. Kerns said using up the fluoride supply in stock, or proper disposal, would be considerations in that case.
“We have a cost to haul it off as a hazardous material,” Linden said, “which kind of begs the question why are we putting it in there anyway.”
The council agreed they will include the resolution as new business on their next agenda.
The poll will be mailed out from March 11 to April 1, with a hard deadline for return of April 22. The results will take a week to tabulate.
*Original article online at https://county3.news/2019/02/12/city-to-poll-public-on-water-fluoridation/