Fluoride Action Network

Fluoridation may be back on ballot in Davis County

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune | November 25th, 2003 | By Lori Buttars
Location: United States, Utah

Another round of fluoride debates may be on tap in Davis County.

Today, the Davis County Commission is expected to pass a resolution to put a fluoride question on the 2004 ballot. If approved, residents will vote on the issue four years after they originally agreed to allow the cavity-fighting mineral in their drinking water

“The state Legislature opened the door for us to look at this again,” said Kaysville fluoride opponent David Hansen, who last month sent a letter to the commissioners requesting a new ballot measure.

Davis residents voted 52 percent to 48 percent in favor of fluoride in 2002. A citizens petition to recall the fluoride vote was shot down earlier this year in 2nd District Court. Judge Glenn Dawson, ruled the petition “legally insufficient,” saying organizers missed the filing deadline even though they collected more than 9,600 signatures.

Since then, state Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville, pushed a law through the 2003 Legislature that allows counties to hold a vote to disallow fluoride. Previous versions of the law only had provisions for counties to hold elections to allow residents to decide whether they want fluoride in their drinking water.

Commission Chairman Dannie McConkie, who signed the citizens petition, says by looking at the issue nearly 12 months in advance of the next election, officials are giving residents ample time to examine all their options.

“One of the complaints we had the last time it came before us was that it didn’t come up until July or August, and that was not enough time before the [2000] election,” McConkie said. “The law says this is a matter that should be decided by the people, and we feel there was a valid effort on the part of our citizens who collected enough names on the petition.”

This time, however, voters will have to weigh the cost of the fluoridation equipment, now up and running throughout most of the county. Weber Basin Water District (WBWD), which supplies about half the culinary water in Davis County, has spent nearly $2.2 million on fluoridation equipment that has been operational since 2002.

The payments for that equipment will still need to be made whether it is turned on or off, says Scott Paxman, a WBWD engineer.

“The only saving would be the nearly $100,000 we spend on materials each year,” Paxman said.

In addition to Weber Basin water, the county mandates that 14 cities in Davis County fluoridate their own water. The exception is Woods Cross City. That community won a 2002 lawsuit to separate itself from the WBWD and from the county’s fluoridation mandate. Woods Cross officials showed that their citizens voted decisively against fluoride in the 2000 election.

The commission’s agenda, which was made public on Monday, said that Woods Cross would not be included in the resolution. Fluoride supporters are insisting that Woods Cross City be included if fluoride ends up on the 2004 ballot.

David Irvine, attorney for Utahns for Better Dental Health, wrote a letter to Davis County Attorney Mel Wilson on Monday saying state statutes call for “such an election to be countywide.”

The commission meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the county’s historic courthouse, 28 S. State, Farmington.

Davis fluoridation history

1976 Statewide referendum forbids addition of fluoride without voter OK.
1988 Legislation OKs countywide vote to allow fluoride.
2000 Davis County voters approve fluoride 52 percent to 48 percent.
2002 Fluoride flows in Davis County.
2003 Legislation OKs countywide votes to disallow fluoride.