Dunedin City Commission hears pros, cons on fluoridated water
Applause, passionate outbursts and several rounds of booing marked a workshop last week in which the public and Dunedin City Commission discussed whether to eliminate fluoride from the city's water supply.
The issue came to light recently when Dunedin officials asked city departments to find ways to cut costs in fiscal year 2012.
Dunedin's annual fluoridation costs have increased from $2,000 in 2005 to about $16,800 last year, or about 48 cents annually per resident, according to a report by the city's assistant utilities director. If the city stops fluoridating its water, it can save those annual chemical and testing costs and also avoid spending $50,000 to replace the city's aging fluoride storage tank.
Roughly 35 people gathered in City Hall chambers Thursday. Only one person, a local dentist, spoke in favor of fluoride. He was booed.
After two hours on the topic, commissioners said they were "torn" and wanted to hear more information before deciding whether to vote at a formal meeting or to send the issue to a voter referendum in November 2012. They told City Manager Rob DiSpirito to schedule another workshop, this time for an evening when more residents could attend.
"I want to hear from others in the community who haven't had their voice heard," Mayor Dave Eggers said. "I think the more we talk about it, the more we learn."
In 1992, Dunedin became the second Pinellas County city to fluoridate its water after commissioners accepted a federal grant that paid for installing equipment at the city's new water plant and a two-year supply of fluoride.