NORTH ATTLEBORO — The board of health’s push to end fluoridation of town water could soon be headed to Superior Court, with a Taunton lawyer agreeing to take the case at no cost.

Board of health Chairwoman Diane Battistello is cheering the news, but selectmen are fuming that any litigation filed will require the town to pay another attorney to defend itself.

Selectwoman Marjorie Kraskouskas called for Battistello’s resignation.

“I think she needs to resign from the board of health and run an anti-fluoridation campaign from a different vehicle,” Kraskouskas said.

“My honest and forthright reaction is that Diane Battistello and everyone else who is against fluoride should first put a question on the ballot to let the voters decide,” she said.

“Instead, two people are using their position on the board of health to cost the town a lot of money because they have a topic they feel strongly about.”

The latest news on the fluoride front comes weeks after the board of health – in a 2 to 1 vote – decided to search for a lawyer who could help the board determine whether it has the authority to stop fluoridation. Battistello and member Susan Shaw voted in favor of the move, board member Donald Bates against.

The lone stipulation was that the attorney would have to agree to work for free.

David Gay, a Taunton lawyer who has previously done legal work on fluoridation for a Plainville citizen’s group, last week agreed to the task after being asked by the board.

Gay noted, however, that he may not have to work for free because a group of citizens is considering funding the work.

Battistello said she is unaware of any citizen effort and said the board will discuss whether to work with Gay at its next meeting Monday.

“I’m very happy with the news,” she said.

The board of health has voted twice this year to halt fluoridation, with Bates opposed each time.

The board of public works, however, has refused to follow a cease-and-desist order based on an opinion from town counsel.

Town counsel has said the board of health does not have the authority to end fluoridation because the town’s voters approved it in November 2000.

State law does not contain any provisions for stopping fluoridation once voters agree to it.

“We would agree that the statute is silent with respect to the authority of the board of health to discontinue fluoridation of a town’s water supply,” Gay said. “The reason the statute is silent, in our opinion, is that it is implicit that the board has such authority.

We have reviewed the Massachusetts Board of Health guide books and find that the general prevailing opinion has always been that the board of health has the authority to discontinue fluoridation without the need for town approval,” he said.

Gay recommended that the board of health file a lawsuit in Superior Court to determine once and for all whether it has the right to end fluoridation.

“There is no other way to get a definitive determination on the rights and authority of the board on this issue and there are no cases directly on point in Massachusetts (to the best of our knowledge),” Gay wrote.

Selectman, however, are dismayed at the news and say the suit could cost the town money.

“I hope something can be worked out before this drags into a legal fee we can’t afford,” selectman Chairman John Rhyno said. “Our budget is already pretty strapped, due to rising fuel and energy costs.”

“I’m hoping that we can sit down and talk about this before it goes to court,” he said. “This could all be decided by a ballot question in April. If the voters say they want fluoride, we don’t have to go to court. If the voters say we don’t, we don’t have to go court either.”