PINELLAS PARK — Officials here are "pausing" work on a system to restore fluoride to the drinking water to see if Pinellas County commissioners reverse themselves and decide to add it back into the water.
The decision came after Tuesday's election when Democrats Charlie Justice and Janet Long won seats on the County Commission.
They defeated Republican incumbents Nancy Bostock and Neil Brickfield, both of whom voted last year to remove fluoride from the county drinking water. Both Justice and Long promised to reverse that decision if elected. The matter is scheduled to be talked about on their first day in office, Nov. 20.
Pinellas Park gets its water from the county and, after the commission decided to remove fluoride, found that it could be injected into the system as the water entered the city.
The Pinellas Park council voted unanimously in January to do so.
The city won a state grant of about $100,000 this year to build the necessary facilities. But, so far, the city has spent none of that money because officials were getting permits for the project, City Manager Mike Gustafson said Thursday.
But after Tuesday's election and with the prospect of a reversal on the county level, Gustafson said the city asked the state if it could hold off until the county has a chance to reverse the decision.
If county commissioners decide to restore fluoride to the water, Gustafson said the city will return the grant money to the state and drop plans to build a system.
If commissioners do not reverse themselves, Pinellas Park will continue with plans to inject fluoride into the system for its customers.
Anne Lindberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8450.