Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dunedin calls special meeting to settle fluoride debate

DUNEDIN — City leaders will settle Dunedin's fluoride controversy once and for all with a vote during a special meeting late this month.

The meeting, set for 6 p.m. Nov. 29, will be the second meeting in a months-old debate over whether to stop fluoridating city water to avoid spending $50,000 to replace the city's aging fluoride storage tank. Budget planners, asked this summer to submit cost-cutting ideas, said nixing fluoride also could save the city nearly $17,000 in annual costs for the additive.

In September nearly 40 people, including residents from North Redington Beach and Tarpon Springs, attended a City Hall workshop where they decried fluoride as unnecessary and potentially harmful. Only one person, a local dentist, spoke in favor of keeping fluoride in the water.

The Dunedin City Commission called for another workshop, this time in the evening at the larger Hale Activity Center, so more residents could express their views. The commission can't take formal votes during workshops, so officials had planned to either follow up with a vote during a regular commission meeting or possibly send the issue to a voter referendum.

However, commissioners last week decided to change the scope and location of the Nov. 29 gathering, after city spokeswoman Courtney King raised concerns about logistics. They decided to change the planned workshop to a three-hour special meeting so they could vote that night.

Officials will devote two hours to public comments and one hour to commission discussion. Piggybacking off a request from the last fluoride discussion, they'll use color-coded speaker cards to alternate pro and con speakers. Public comments will be capped at three minutes each, with priority given to Dunedin residents.

"We should make sure Dunedin residents get their say," Commissioner David Carson said.

"I think the people who came out the first time came out for change," Mayor Dave Eggers said. "I think you'll see the other side at that second workshop."

After a lengthy debate, the City Commission also voted 3-2 to move the meeting back to City Hall to avoid spending at least $1,500 on extra staff and other television production costs for the Hale Center.

Capacity at City Hall is 80 people. But unlike the Hale Center, it's already set up with the equipment needed to stream the event live on the web and to record it for rebroadcast. King said the 125 to 150 residents who turned out for a recent commission discussion on the controversial Patricia Avenue road closure seemed "pretty happy" with City Hall's overflow outdoor seating and audio system.

In light of Pinellas County's recent decision to stop fluoridating water, Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski called the venue change a mistake. Eggers also voted no.

"We're fooling ourselves if we think we're not going to have more people than Patricia. We're going to have people from all over the county," Bujalski said.

"If it storms … you've got no place to put all those people. I was slightly embarrassed to see all those people sit outside for Patricia Avenue when we have all these buildings we pay a lot of money for."

Coupled with the time limits on public comments, "I just think we're not being very friendly to people who want to talk about an issue," she said.

Her colleagues countered that they want to hear from everyone, but they also want to avoid endless hours of redundancy and to use existing television and web resources to provide meeting access to as many residents as possible.

"I think we're being accommodating. We could be more accommodating," Commissioner Ron Barnette said. "But, pragmatically, I don't think we should."

Keyonna Summers can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4153.

>>if you go

Fluoride debate

What: Dunedin City Commission special meeting on fluoride in the city's water supply

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29

Where: Dunedin City Hall, 542 Main St.

Web: Visit to watch last week's debate over meeting logistics. Click "commission discussion."

Dunedin calls special meeting to settle fluoride debate 11/15/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 6:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate


    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help


    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  3. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers


    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem


    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  5. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)


    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.