The vice mayor of the city of Mt. Pleasant does not feel it was right for the city commission to overturn a vote by the people.
Last week, the city water department reduced the amount of fluoride in the water from 0.7 parts per million to an average .5 ppm following a resolution passed by the commission 4 to 2 on June 14 to “temporarily reduce the amount of fluoride.”
“(City residents) voted to put the fluoride in the water,” Vice Mayor Bruce Kilmer said. “They assumed it would be enough fluoride to prevent tooth decay.
“I think we overturned the vote of the people while the studies are incomplete.”
The vote in June took place following acceptance of a report in May given to the commissioners by the fluoride task force which was chaired by Commissioner Kathleen Ling.
“…I want to assure people that neither the city commission nor the fluoride task force had any intention of ignoring the voters,” said Ling in an editorial published by the Sun on June 27.
The 2005 ballot language said the “commission by resolution shall have the authority, from time to time, to change the proportions there-of,” said Ling.
The city of Mt. Pleasant has been putting fluoride in the water since 1956, and over the past 10 years, the issue has been on the ballot three times.
“What the fluoride task force was trying to do was weigh the possible benefits and the possible negative health effects,” said Ling.
On May 24, Ling read from the report, “We believe that elected officials have an obligation to be good custodians of the public water system,” said Ling, as she read remarks by Sharyl Majorski, a member of the task force. “The precautionary principle dictates that we err on the side of safety.
“Until we feel that we can say with a high degree of certainty that water fluoridation is doing no harm, we believe it is prudent to stop using it until the safety issues raised in the most recent reports are addressed.”
After 2005, when the last vote took place regarding fluoride being placed in the city water system, studies were reported by the National Research Council that identified potential health risks, and they asked the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct new studies in 2006 on their concerns – that review has not been completed.
“Nobody knows when they’re going to be done,” said Kilmer. “The federal agencies are doing the studies, and they have no projected timeline.
“It really surprised me that the resolution passed. Because it was real clear what the residents wanted. The fluoride in the water,” he said.
The city spends $4,000 a year on fluoride, as part of the $3 million water budget, said City Engineer Duane Ellis.
“It was not a financial move,” said Ellis. “It was about issues people have about fluoride.
“I try to acknowledge the goal of the city commission who voted to do this.”
A copy of the task force report can be found on the city’s website.