FROSTBURG — The decision to fluoridate Frostburg’s water system could come as early as Wednesday.
All five members of the incoming mayor and council have publicly expressed their support of fluoridating the city’s water supply, and the group may vote on the issue shortly after being sworn in on Wednesday evening.
“My intent is to put it on the agenda,” said Mayor John Bambacus, who was recently re-elected to his fourth term as mayor. “I haven’t had anybody indicate to me that they don’t want to deal with it (fluoride) that night.”
Bambacus said that it should be a direct vote with little discussion. “We have had five hours of hearings on this,” he said, referring to the public hearing in early March that was attended by about 300 people. “Everybody in the room had a chance to make their point.”
The vote should take place after the swearing-in ceremony and reception. “I plan to reconvene after a half hour or so,” said Bambacus. “And (fluoride) is the only major item on the agenda. There is really no (other) major unfinished or new business before the incoming council.”
Jeff Rhodes, commissioner-elect of water, parks and recreation, believes the new members are ready to tackle the issue.
“I feel confident it’s going to be a unanimous vote by the council in favor of the issue,” said Rhodes. “The new council wants to address this issue as soon as possible.”
Once the fluoride measure passes, council will have to enact an ordinance, which will require at least two public readings before it can be adopted.
Rhodes said that some state funding is available to help provide the necessary equipment and that he intends to seek those grants if council votes in favor of fluoridation.
Dr. Harry Goodman, director of the Office of Oral Health through the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, previously said his office would do what it could to finance any municipality’s fluoridation project.
At that time, he said he could not give a cost estimate because it will depend upon specifications determined by the city’s water department and the Department of the Environment. The cost of fluoride also depends upon the type chosen.
The office tries to provide a one- to two-year grant for fluoride.
Also before the mayor and council is the task of picking which day of the month they will hold their public meeting. The meeting is usually held the third Tuesday of each month, but Bambacus said that there may be some scheduling conflicts with the new council. Wednesday’s meeting will serve as the July meeting.
The city also has come closer to the end of its search for a new city administrator. The position has been open since David Powell’s departure in early March. Past city staff member David Cotton had accepted the position about a month ago but changed his mind and declined a few weeks later. The deadline for applications has passed, said Bambacus. “We received 15 applications, which is the same amount that we received last time.”
Bambacus said not to expect any action to be taken until after the new council has been sworn in.
Wednesday’s ceremony will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the community center on Water Street.