The Traverse City Commission voted five-to-one on Monday night to purchase a year’s supply of fluoride and continue a program that began more than 60 years ago.
Commissioner Jim Carruthers cast the lone vote against water fluoridation — which he has opposed since he was first elected to the commission six years ago. Debate lasted for about an hour before the vote, where representatives from both sides of the issue had a chance to make their case.
Commissioner Gary Howe says the issue will likely continue to spur debate.
“There’s been rumors that because of our continuation of the program there might be a movement to go to a referendum to oppose it,” he says. “And I wouldn’t stand in the way of that. I think it’s a community’s right to do so.”
A group called “Fluoride Free Traverse City” is lobbying against the practice. County health officials say water fluoridation is a safe and effective way to protect teeth from decay. Health officials held a news conference last week to make their point.
The movement against fluoride gained momentum in the spring, after a similar pushback led Boyne City to end its own program.
Water fluoridation costs Traverse City about $20,000 to $30,000 each year, according to city officials.