Corning, N.Y. – The City Council called a time-out Monday night on the fluoridation project.
The council voted 7-2 instructing City Manager Mark Ryckman not to spend any time, money or resources on the project until after a November public vote on the issue.
Councilman Hilda Lando, D-3, and Betty Coccho, D-6, cast the dissenting votes.
“In my opinion, given the manager’s workload it should be made clear to Mr. Ryckman that all time and efforts be ceased until (the city) gets a decision in November,” said Mayor Tom Reed who wrote the resolution.
Coccho asked Ryckman if delaying work on the project would cost tax-payers money if voters support fluoridation in November.
“If you stop all research and it should go through would it be more costly?,” Coccho said.
“No, the timing isn’t critical because we’re not in the design phase of upgrading the water disinfection system,” Ryckman said.
Officials had planned to install fluoridation equipment while upgrading the city’s water disinfection system. Funding to upgrade the water disinfection system has been delayed.
Councilman Lee Welles, D-2, said if the city spends money on fluoridation, then the public votes down the measure it would be a waste of public funds.
Prior to the vote on the issue, Coccho made an unsuccessful attempt to table the measure.
The motion failed 4-5, with councilman Coccho, Lando, Dan Kane, D-1 and Frank Muccini, R-5, supporting the table.
“This should be tabled permanently as far as I’m concerned,” Coccho said. “It just bothers me that everything we’ve ever done in the past has been rescinded. Why even do it.”
The council’s action rescinded a November 2006 resolution to raise fluoride levels in city water until after the November vote. Fluoridation is geared to reduce tooth decay.
The public vote was forced by a petition signed by more than 300 registered voters opposed to fluoridation.
The City Council accepted the petition in November 2007. At that time councilman instructed Ryckman to continue to work on the project without spending public funds.
The November public vote will decide whether to strip the council of the power to add fluoride to the city water supply.
Ryckman told councilmen Monday that he is uncomfortable dealing with environmental quality review act requirements and creating a local law without being able to hire professional help.
“This is not my field of expertise,” Ryckman said.
Ryckman said if the council wanted him to move forward with the project he would need the authority to spend city funds.
“We made this vote, took this stand and now we have to decide if we’re going to spend this money or not,” Lando said.
Ryckman said the engineering study would have likely cost between $15,000 to $25,000…