If South Weber, Centerville and Bountiful comply with a policy statement issued Tuesday by the Davis Board of Heath, they could be wasting nearly $1 million of taxpayer money.
With that cash in mind, leaders in the three cities are considering ignoring the policy statement Ñ a move that might incur the wrath of the county health department.
“It doesn’t make economic sense to us,” Bountiful City Manager Tom Hardy said. “My initial reaction is that I doubt our City Council is going to be persuaded.”
The three cities had requested that they be granted extensions on meeting fluoridation deadlines imposed by the county health department earlier this year.
For Centerville and Bountiful the deadline was May 1, which both cities missed. South Weber, along with all cities from Farmington north, has a deadline of Nov. 1.
The three cities had asked that the deadline be extended past the Nov. 5 general election. During that vote, county residents will again decide whether they want fluoride in the drinking water system. Two years ago, county residents voted 52 percent to 48 percent in favor of fluoridating their water. After November 2000, Centerville held a citywide revote in which fluoride passed again.
Leaders from the three cities say it would be fiscally irresponsible to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on fluoridation equipment only to have voters reject fluoride this November.
“We’re not totally certain what we will do at this point because we are looking at a significant amount of money,” South Weber City Manager Ron Chandler said.
Centerville Assistant City Manager Blaine Lutz said his city is similarly perplexed.
South Weber Mayor Joseph Gertge pledged to bring the issue up at next week’s Davis Council of Governments meeting. City leaders are also expected to discuss the issue with the Davis County Commission.
“Our council is very disappointed (with the health board’s decision),” he said.
Health board chairman Joe Mott noted that based on the election results of 2000, fluoride is the law in Davis County and the health department is obligated to obey it.
Mott and the board unanimously decided to have the county health department continue to monitor the cities’ progress and issue notices of violation to cities that miss deadlines.
After violations are issued, Mott said health department officials will sit down with the cities and renegotiate new deadlines. If deadlines are consistently missed the health department can issue fines, Mott said.
Meanwhile, at least three Centerville households have been refusing to pay the additional $2.30 added to their monthly water bills to cover the costs of fluoridation.
Once the accruement totals one month’s bill, those residents will have 60 days before their accounts become delinquent. At that point they will be responsible for interest and penalties and could have their water shut off, Lutz said.