City Council declines to make changes on fluoridation

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home City Council Tuesday evening chose not to take action on a request to stop using fluoride in city water.

Following testimony from 19 residents, with 10 against fluoridation, eight speaking in favor of the practice and one other member of the public urging the council to defer to the experts, the council declined to take action of any kind.

Councilors had the options of passing a new ordinance that would remove fluoride from Sweet Home’s water, referring the question to voters or taking no action.

Mayor Jim Gourley told the audience, which packed the council chambers, that members of the public could gather petition signatures to place the question on the ballot.

Sweet Home residents voted to begin fluoridating city water in 1964.

Councilors said they weren’t willing to overturn a vote of the people.

Those opposed to fluoridation argued that, while it might be helpful topically for teeth, it also affects other parts of the body causing a variety of health issues. Fluoridation proponents, several of them dental workers as well as a general surgeon, disagreed.

In other business, the council adopted new water and sewer service rates. Earlier this year, Public Works Director Mike Adams had estimated the likely increase at about $12 per month for the average residence.

On Tuesday, though, he presented a request that would only increase the average bill by $9.34 per month. The average residence uses 600 cubic feet of water per month.

Utility customers will see the new rates reflected in their bills beginning in September.

The council voted 5-1 to adopt the new rates. Dave Trask voted no because he opposes a water filling station that remains in the city budget. The filling station has been in the budget for several years, but the city has not moved forward with the project, which is a project in the city’s hazard mitigation plan.

Voting to increase the rates were Greg Mahler, Marybeth Angulo, Craig Fentiman, Mayor Jim Gourley and Bruce Hobbs. Scott McKee Jr. was absent.

For more on both actions by the council, see the July 2 issue of The New Era or