LAYTON – A standoff may be brewing between the City of Layton and the Davis County Health Department.
With the chances that an election on fluoride could be held next year, Layton City Manager Alex Jensen said he is leery to spend up to $900,000 to build new facilities and retrofit existing pump houses and equipment to implement fluoride throughout the county’s largest community.
In fact, Jensen told the Clipper Today Wednesday morning, “I believe there ought to be a re-vote in 2004 and that we ought not to spend the money until that point.”
But on Tuesday, Health Director Lewis Garrett said that if Layton doesn’t comply with the order to implement fluoride, “the board of health will undoubtedly take steps to enforce the order.”
Garrett added that even in Layton, most of the city would receive fluoridated water when Weber Basin Water Conservancy District turns on its fluoridation equipment later this spring. However, Jensen emphasized it is not an issue of “pro” or “con” fluoride by city staff or elected officials. “No one on the council is tied one way or the other. I hope we’ll be able to get it worked out in a cooperative way.
“I know there are other, private interests that want to push enforcement of the order legally. I suspect we’ll do that if there is no other recourse. Hopefully, more reasonable heads will prevail,” he said.
“I think that everybody has agreed that the numbers (money) that were used were in error, significantly, and that what we’ve put together are accurate numbers,” Jensen said. “We had projected in some of the estimates about $250,000 for the wells and the distribution equipment, physical facilities. When we got to looking at the actual bids for similar size facilities and equipment, when it all shook out, it was $800,000 to $900,000 – just for facilities and equipment.”
Those figures don’t include adding a full-time person to handle the 20-plus tests that will be required each day, he said, plus the actual chemical, which is estimated to add $30,000.
“How do we (or other cities) get our money back?” the city manager asked, after equipment is installed, and a vote rescinds fluoride.
“If costs had come in at what we had been told, it would’ve been a bitter pill, but we would’ve done it. We had the money budgeted,” Jensen said. “But when it’s that much, we just said it’s not right.
“It’s interesting on the timing,” he said. “Because of water conservation, which we applaud, our water revenues have dropped off significantly from last year to the current year. It’s a double-edged sword. Then you inject an $800,000 to $900,000 project that we hadn’t planned on, as part of our long-range plan.
This means that if fluoride goes through it would be the only water project we could finance.”
The city would have to forget needed new tanks, water lines, etc., for this year at least, he said.