Neosho voters sent a proposal to add fluoride to the water supply to a crushing defeat, but Carl Junction residents overwhelmingly approved a similar plan.
In Neosho, voters on Tuesday rejected the proposal, with 1,223 opposed and 509 in favor. In Carl Junction, the tally was 813 “yes” and 477 “no” votes.
Last year, city councils in both communities decided to put the question to voters after factions lobbied on each side of the issue. Supporters argued that fluoride helps ward off tooth decay, while foes said fluoridation poses health risks.
Had it passed in Neosho, fluoridation would have required the city to increase water rates by 6.8 percent to finance the $89,000 in start-up costs. Adding the chemical would have cost $24,000 a year after that.
“Truth won the day,” said Richard Reid, of Citizens for Pure Water in Neosho. “Neosho citizens wisely said ‘no’ for the third time.”
News that fluoride would be introduced into the water supply in Carl Junction, by contrast, drew praise from supporter Jack Udell. “I’m thrilled,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do, especially for our children.”
In Carl Junction, the measure initially will cost the city about $105,000 to install fluoridation equipment in all seven wells. It will cost about $11,000 a year for operation and maintenance.
City Manager Joe Barfield said the average monthly water bill will increase by about $1.16 for residential users, going from $18 to $19.16.
Voters on both sides of the issue cited health concerns.
Alvin Rhodes, of Neosho, voted against the proposal in his community because, he said, “I don’t want something for my teeth in my kidneys and my liver.”
Had it passed, he said, he would have left town to visit restaurants. “I would like to get a cola and not have to have fluoride shoved down my throat,” he said.
Charlene Huskey, of Carl Junction, said she endorsed fluoridation in her community because of concerns about tooth decay for her children. “I never had problems, ever, until we moved to Missouri,” she said.