THERE are four possible ways Eurobodalla Shire Council can go on the fluoride debate – vote yes, vote no, defer a decision to the State Government or put the decision to the community by a referendum.

After listening to water cycle officer Harvey Lane at a workshop on Tuesday, councillors decided to do nothing at this stage, preferring to wait until after public consultation that will be carried out within the next few weeks.

There was some lively discussion, particularly between Mayor Neil Mumme and Councillor Peter Cairney. Cr Cairney said there should be a referendum, carried out with the September council elections, and that a referendum on the proposed Surf Beach bulky goods store should take place then too. Cr Mumme’s view was that councillors were elected to make decisions, and that’s what the public expected them to do.

General manager Jim Levy told councillors a referendum conducted with the elections would cost about $40,000.

Mr Lane said that NSW Health had said it would not override council’s decision on the proposed treatment of the water supply. The department had offered financial assistance towards community consultation. Initially it offered $500, but that had increased to $3500.

A consultant had been selected to oversee the consultation process, and a focus group would meet on February 21. Mr Lane said it was intended to have an even representation on the group, including members of the general public and medical groups.

“We are going to get people who are opposed and people for fluoridation. We will hear their arguments and use them in a fact sheet which will be mailed to every ratepayer and resident.”

Mr Lane said the fact sheets would be distributed in early next month, followed in mid-March by open house sessions in Batemans Bay, Moruya and Narooma.

A final report from the consultants was expected by April 30, a council workshop will be held on May 20 and a final report should be with council by May 27.