YORK — It’s not something that York opponents of fluoridation probably want to hear, after they fought a city proposal to add it to the water supply. But LB 245 is seeking to create a mandate that all towns with more than 1,000 residents should have to add fluoride to their water.
The bill, which was introduced by Senator Joel Johnson of Kearney, was considered Wednesday during a public hearing before the Health and Human Services Committee.
A similar bill, LB 158, was introduced by Senator Jim Jensen in 2005, but it was not passed.
York had quite a fight on its hands in 2003, when an ordinance was proposed that would have added fluoride to the city’s water system — which naturally already occurs to some extent. The proposal was supported by many in the medical field, particularly among dentists and local physicians. Many said they wanted their children to have the benefits of fluoridation.
But a contingency of local residents, led by Wesley Conley Trollope, fought against the proposed change — stating they feared fluoridation would create health hazards for residents. They also worried that longterm effects would occur.
Months passed by, with hours of debate before the York City Council.
Trollope and his backers asked that the city’s residents be allowed to take a vote on the matter — and eventually achieved that goal. In the end, the voters said no to fluoridation.
The statement of intent says this new bill is a “reintroduction” of LB 158. “In a city or village that does not add fluoride as of the effective date of the act, the voters may adopt an ordinance to prohibit adding fluoride” to their water supply.
So, even if the bill would pass, local decisions could still be made. But it would also raise the issue once again.
LB 245’s fiscal note says that “it is unknown how many (communities with) public water systems that currently do not provide fluoridation would pass ordinances prohibiting it. If all systems currently do not (fluoridate), it is estimated that 60-75 additional water systems would need to be inspected and regulated. The additional workload would require 1 1/2 additional engineers. The costs could be $55,587 in 2008 and $96,056 in 2009. This bill potentially would generate $20,000 in additional fees each year; $10,000 in the first year. Fees currently do not cover the cost of regulation and general funds cover the balance of the costs not covered by fees. General funds would be needed. As fees are generated, in the future, general funds can be offset.”
Johnson says further, “cities and villages that would need to fluoridate their water systems would likely pass on the increased costs to consumers, with the impact on the individual water systems varying.”