CORNING — The Corning City Council will decide Monday whether City Manager Mark Ryckman should continue planning for fluoridation of the municipality’s water supply.
The council, which meets at 7 p.m. at Corning City Hall, will consider a proposal that Mayor Tom Reed says is designed to clarify Ryckman’s fluoridation role prior to a referendum on the issue in November.
Reed said a unanimous Nov. 6 council vote that directed Ryckman to proceed with planning for fluoridation but to spend no money has created confusion.
“Some thought he would actively research, come up with a plan and local laws to be implemented,” Reed said.
“Others were under the impression that everything was to come to a standstill.”
Reed said the resolution he will present to the council Monday calls for Ryckman not to spend any time, energy or money on the issue in advance of the expected referendum.
“My personal opinion is that he’s not out there doing research or drafting legislation or coming up with a plan,” Reed said. “He should not spend any time or energy on the issue. …”
Ryckman said he asked the mayor to have the council clarify his role in the fluoridation process.
“I’m uncomfortable proceeding with … research and local law requirements without professional assistance,” he said. “So I can’t ask the city attorney, who works on an hourly basis, for help.”
The City Council voted in May to add fluoride to Corning’s water supply in an effort to reduce tooth decay.
The vote came after the city’s Board of Health recommended fluoridation and a citizens’ group raised $100,000 to support the project.
But a petition campaign by anti-fluoride forces, led by Kirk Huttleston of Corning, gathered enough signatures to put a measure on the 2008 general election ballot that would prohibit the city from fluoridating its water.
The city has taken no concrete steps toward fluoridation since the vote in May.
Huttleston said he thinks Reed’s plan makes sense.
“It sounds like he (Ryckman) was asked to pursue it almost on a hobby basis (in November 2007),” Huttleston said.
While he remains opposed to fluoridation of the city’s water supply, Huttleston said he’s looking into a school-based program that would give 6-year-old children the opportunity to use a fluoride rinse.
“I’d like to know more about it,” he said.
Monday’s council meeting will be preceded by a 6:45 p.m. hearing on a Community Development Block Grant application.