ENOSBURG FALLS – Town Meeting Day is quickly approaching, and Enosburg Falls will be weighing  a 19% increase in the village’s general fund and whether to keep fluoride in the water system.

No village trustee seats are contested and those in office will remain, unless a write-in winner is declared.

Major articles on the ballot are one, six, and seven. Articles two, three, four and eight will provide minor funding towards vehicle replacement funds and village decorations like holiday lighting and patriotic banners.

Article 1: “To see if the Village will approve an amount of $12,500 on the Grand List for the purpose of upgrading sidewalks.”

Enosburg Falls is looking to upgrade sidewalks around town, pending approval from voters for $12,500.

Article 6: To see if the Village will vote a budget on the Grand List to cover the 2023 Village General Fund Budget for operating expenses of $840,131, of which $734,435 shall be raised by taxes and $105,696 by non-tax revenues.

This is a major jump for Enosburg Falls, as 2022’s budget was $606,563. This represents an increase of roughly 20% in what must be funded by property taxes.

Enosburg Falls village manager John Dasaro told the Messenger via email the general fund was hit especially hard by inflation, but that the village also has necessary projects that need funding, like a new plow truck.

“The Village’s general fund does have a 19% increase at $734,436 — as inflation hit many of the supplies used such as fuel, salt and sand for the roads,” Dasaro stated. “The Village also has some capital projects such as a new plow truck that was voted on and passed last year that is finally being delivered as well as some sidewalk projects to continue to support the Village as ‘walkable.’”

Dasaro is referring to article 1 on the sidewalk projects, which is pending voter approval.

The plow, voted on in 2022 and set to be funded starting in 2023, costs $195,000. Dasaro said they don’t have an official funding plan yet, but are expecting to pay around $30,000 per year for the vehicle until it and the interest is paid off.

Elsewhere, a bulk of the village’s budget goes towards salaries and benefits for village employees, totalling nearly $450,000.

The rest of the general fund is divided between utilities and other village necessities, as well as smaller portions like parks and recreation allotments.

Article 7: To see if the Village will vote to remove the addition of fluoride to the Village of Enosburg Falls drinking water.

Voters will be asked whether the village should continue to add fluoride — known for preventing tooth decay — to its water system.

Critics of fluoridating water have voiced concern that fluoride is sourced from China and may not be subjected to high levels of quality control. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stood by the guide that the chemical is naturally occurring in water and is rigorously tested before the addition into municipal water systems.

Richmond’s wastewater superintendent Kendall Chamberlin made headlines in 2022 when he unilaterally decided to lower the town’s water system’s fluoride levels.

In Enosburg Falls, Dasaro said the village has no stance either way and is simply putting the question out for residents to decide. He said the village water crew has won awards the past three years for how accurately they fluoridate the water, following exact standards and best practices.

The annual cost of fluoride in Enosburg Falls increased nearly 30% from 2021 to 2022, jumping from $807 to $2,829.

“Along with the cost increase for the fluoride itself, there is a requirement of an extra license for the village’s water operators, which could be cost savings for the village as well,” Dasaro said via email.

However, Vermont State Dental Society executive director Patrick Gallivan told the Messenger the cost is well worth the health impacts.

“The cost of a lifetime of water fluoridation for one person is less than the cost of one tooth being filled by a dentist,” Gallivan said. “It’s a public health measure to protect the oral health of people in our community and our state.”

Gallivan said people shouldn’t be worried about health risks when it comes to fluoride, as it has a long and solid scientific base.

“Fluoridation is really important. There’s 75 years of research, experience and scientific evidence that consistently show that fluoridation in the water is safe,” Gallivan said. “Studies show that community fluoridation prevents at least 25% of tooth decay in children and adults, even in areas where there is widespread fluoride availability like in toothpaste.”

Village board of trustees

Enosburg Falls trustees up for re-election are Heather Moore and Eli Gabuzda, but they are running unopposed. Unless a major upset occurs via write-in, they’re projected to keep their seats.

The Enosburg Falls vote will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 14 at the Enosburg Emergency Services Building at 83 Sampsonville Road, Enosburg.

*Original full-text article online at: https://www.samessenger.com/elections_2023/enosburg-falls-voters-to-consider-budget-fluoride-in-water-system-this-march/article_9b7fca3a-ae3d-11ed-a11b-cb1429d8bbf7.html