In voting for the removal of fluoride from Bolivar’s water, Mayor John Best finally got his chance to cast a tie-breaking vote at the Bolivar Board of Aldermen meeting Monday evening.
Alderman Rob Ross moved to remove fluoride from the city’s water, seconded by Alderman Darren Crowder. The issue, frequently revisited in the last two years and voted on twice by the board, came up again at the board’s Jan. 26 work session as a way to save money when the city was cutting its budget by about $400,000.
Alderman John Credille said he opposed fluoridation the last time the board voted on it, and since the issue had already been decided by the current board of aldermen, it should wait until after the April 3 election for another board vote.
However, Credille suggested the city could look into subsidizing fluoride treatments, such as rinses or fluoride tablets.
“I really think we ought to have an alternative,” he said.
“It’s in toothpaste,” Best said. “Instead of washing your mouth out with fluoride, how about brushing your teeth?”
Alderman Arleen Ferguson asked if area schools still offer fluoride rinses to students. The consensus of those in the room was that they do.
“Mr. Mayor, do you know what it costs us per person, per year to fluoridate the water?” Alderman Bill Jones asked.
“I’m well aware,” Best said.
“How much?” Jones asked.
“It’s about $2,” Best replied.
“Remember Dr. Gonzalez, the dentist that talked to us about the $13,000 procedure?” Jones said. “Those are the things that you have to look at it. Two dollars per person is pretty darn cheap for health benefits. You can’t go to a heart doctor and get an inoculation for that.”
Crowder agreed with Credille’s recommendation to research alternatives in providing fluoride.
Ross said he remembered one dentist who addressed the board about fluoride at a previous meeting and said the water was not fluoridated when he was a child, but his parents gave him fluoride pills.
“Fluoride pills don’t work,” Best said. “They don’t work. It’s a topical treatment. It’s not the ingestion of fluoride that works.”
“If there’s an alternative like that, I agree with John, at the health department,” Ross said. “I could see us funding a couple thousand dollars a year or a thousand.”
“I think providing fluoride pills or washes or anything like that is the responsibility of the Polk County Health Department and not the responsibility of the city council,” Best said. “We should not get involved in health care.”
Ferguson called for the vote. Aldermen Ross, Ferguson, Bond and Crowder voted in favor of discontinuing fluoridation. Aldermen Jones, Credille and Troyer voted against. Alderman Steve Skopec abstained.
“I wanted to vote, Steve,” Best said. “Why didn’t you say no?”
“It will be the same outcome, so I’ll just vote nay then,” Skopec said.
With a 4-4 tie of the aldermen, Best voted in favor of discontinuing fluoridation.
“And I’ll be getting my dental care in Springfield,” he said.