YUTAN – A group of residents in Yutan have signed a petition to put fluoride back on the ballot during a special election.
However, the city is waiting to find out if the petition is enough to get the question of putting fluoride into the drinking water voted on again.
According to Yutan City Administrator Gary Duncan, there is some disparity about what is needed to get it on another ballot.
In November 2008, Yutan residents voted to put fluoride into the town’s drinking water. The vote came as a result of LB245 passed by the Legislature last year.
LB245 said that municipalities over certain populations needed to treat water with fluoride by 2010. Cities could opt out of the mandate if a vote of the people said they didn’t want fluoride in their water.
Yutan resident Mary Holbrook recently started a petition not on a formal form to have the issue put back on a ballot. She has collected 66 signatures.
“I think the way it was worded confused people,” Holbrook said. “I had done a lot of research on it before I voted and feel it is more a hazard to health than a benefit.
“If we allow it to be added to our water it is going to effect a lot of kids around here.”
At previous council meetings the city council members had not only been concerned with the health risks associated with fluoride, but also with the costs of having to add it to the water.
Duncan stated it would cost the city a minimum of $50,000 to install the proper housing facilities for the chemical and to complete the overall installation of the process.
“It will cost the city every year a chunk of money to maintain the process and to purchase the fluoride,” Duncan said.
Duncan stated that the wording used statewide last November could have confused some voters..
A yes vote meant no against the prohibition of fluoride from the water system and a no vote meant yes for the prohibition of fluoride in the water system.
But, there is still the question of what needs to be done to send the issue back to the voters.
Duncan stated that the Saunders County Clerk Patti Lindgren had told him the residents would have to sign formal petition forms and the Nebraska League of Municipalities had stated they only needed a petition started by a resident.
Duncan stated that he has contacted the secretary of state’s office to find out what needs to be done to get a special election set up.
“Once we know if a formal petition is needed or if the informal one is enough we have to give the county clerk notice of a special election 50 days before the date of it,” Duncan said.
Once Holbrook knows if her petition is enough or not, she will do whatever she needs to do to get the ballot back to a vote.
If the majority of the city votes to add fluoride to the water again, the city will have until June 1, 2010 to have the process in place.
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