Those who do and those who don’t want fluoride in their water will be given the chance to vote on the issue in a special mail-ballot election, the Humboldt City Council decided Monday night.
The issue became heated at the council’s June meeting, when vocal opponents called a halt to a decision made by the council in May to begin adding fluoride to the city’s water supply.
The city was to start adding fluoride sufficient to raise the ambient level from at .7 to 1.2 parts per liter, the level recommended by medical and dental authorities to prevent dental caries. Humboldt and the two rural water districts it supplies are the only municipalities in Allen County that do not fluoridate their water. The Neosho River has an ambient level of .21 PPL, said water plant superintendent John Hodgden.
Council member Vada Aikins said she had done a lot of research since last month on the issue.
“I have visited with doctors both active and retired,” she said. “Of the citizens I’ve visited with, they are six-to-one in favor of fluoridation,” Aikins said. “I’ve done a lot of Internet research and all the medical and dental agencies recommend fluoridation.”
Council member Dan Julich said he, too, had done much research since the last meeting. Chanute, Iola and Fort Scott have all been fluoridating water for 50 years, Julich said. “Do you have any information that shows they have increased rates of fluorosis?” he asked Jerrie Lucke, a Humboldt resident who spoke against fluoridation.
“No,” she replied.
“This county ranked 94 out of 100 counties for poor health in this state,” said Councilman Sean McReynolds. “I’ve listened to my constituents (about the fluoride issue) for two months; I hope everyone has listened to theirs. I believe we are elected to make decisions to benefit the public.”
Aikins then moved to ratify the resolution passed by the council in May, allowing fluoridation of the city’s water supply.
That effort failed on a 3-3 vote, with Sean McReynolds, Aikins and Don Walburn in favor; Julich, Otis Crawford and Jerry Griffith opposed. Mayor Bob Sharp broke the tie, voting against the measure.
The council then considered holding an election on the issue. That vote passed.
Ballots for the Sept. 22 special question election will be mailed to Humboldt residents around Sept. 2, City Attorney Fred Works said. It will cost the city approximately $3,000.
The council then had to return to the issue of rescinding their May resolution.
“You already publicly said you’re going to do something,” Works said. “It is my recommendation that it be undone publicly.”
That vote also passed 4-3, with Julich, Crawford and Griffith in favor of rescission, and Aikins, McReynolds and Walburn opposed. Sharp broke the tie, rescinding the May measure to fluoridate Humboldt’s water supply.