BROOKSVILLE — Brooksville residents will decide in November whether the city will continue adding fluoride to their water supply, the City Council voted this week.
The Council voted 3-2 to put the question to a vote after Mayor Betty Erhard questioned the expense of fluoridation and whether residents should be exposed to the substance without their approval.
The topic, highly controversial before in Brooksville, was pushed to a referendum by vice mayor Robert Battista. He was concerned that a council-level debate would distract from the important job of setting the city’s budget for the next fiscal year.
Council member William Kemerer did not favor putting the item on the ballot, saying it was the council’s job to make such decisions and that he had heard no public outcry to remove fluoride from the drinking water.
In fact, citizens speaking at Monday’s meeting were dental professionals singing the praises of fluoridation and its proven public health benefits against tooth decay.
Council member Joe Bernardini, who sat through the last fluoride debate, said he agreed with Kemerer. Newly-appointed council member Brent Young said he saw plenty of fluoride discussion on social media and thought a referendum would resolve the issue.
The council voted to add Young to the council Monday to complete the term of Natalie Kahler, who left her council seat to run for the Hernando County Commission.
Young, a life-long Brooksville resident who works for an engineering company that contracts with Duke Energy, was one of two applicants for the short-term council job. The term ends in December after a new council member is elected.
The other applicant was John Basarab, a former teacher at Nature Coast High School, who buys and fixes up homes.
*Original article online at http://www.tampabay.com/news/briefs/Fluoride-question-will-be-on-November-ballot-in-Brooksville_170090461