LEXINGTON – “Read it carefully. They should do that with all ballot issues, but this one is critical to Lexington.”

Mayor John Fagot is referring to the Nov. 4 ballot measure being put before voters on whether to allow the addition of fluoride to the city’s water system.

The wording on the ballot measure is tricky, according to Fagot. Folks that think by checking the ‘yes’ box they are indicating they want the fluoride added are actually saying they do not want it.

Voters that check the ‘no’ box are indicating they do want fluoride added.

“For some people, the wording can be confusing,” said the Mayor.

The wording on the ballot is not the only thing that is confusing to voters. The issue itself appears to be muddying the waters. Is it healthy or not? Why are we suddenly concerned?

The state of Nebraska is mandating that communities of 1,000 or more need to have a fluoride content in the city water supply equaling 7 parts per million.

Lexington’s naturally occurring fluoride is 6.3 parts per million, leaving the city a little short of the state requirement.

Mayor Fagot doesn’t feel qualified to address the health issues behind adding or not adding the fluoride.

“If people see this as a need, vote for it. If not, vote against it, but this is the financial side of the issue, said Fagot.

Lexington has 18 individual wells that feed different parts of the city. Each of those 18 wells would have to fitted with the necessary equipment to fluoridate the water each well provides.

With equipment costs estimated at $6,000 to $10,000 per well, City officials have estimated that cost easily reach $180,000, without the additional monthly cost of the fluoride.

The addition of the fluoride is estimated to cost an additional $12,000 per year, or about a $1,000. While the cost of the equipment, or even the fluoride itself, is not astronomical, it would be borne by the city residents.

“We’d have to adjust water rates to pay for the equipment,” said the Mayor.

“Water is a utility-based expense, not a tax-based one.”

During non-summer months, Lexington uses four million gallons of water each day, with 95 percent of that for industrial use. A very small part of that, less than a percent, is consumed as drinking water.

In short, Lexington residents will be adding fluoride to their lawns.

Is the mayor for the fluoride?

“We’re so close to what is required,” he said. “It doesn’t seem worth it to me.”

When voting on Nov. 4, check the wording on the ballot.

A ‘Yes’ on the ballot question means you do not want the city to add fluoride to the city’s water supply and a ‘No’ vote means that you do want them to add it.

©Lexington Clipper-Herald 2008