WILMINGTON — The highly debated fluoridation ordinance passed at Thursday night’s city council meeting. It was approved after a 4-3 vote with council members Bill Liermann, Joe Spicer and Lonnie Stuckert voting against it.
The ordinance would mandate the fluoridation of the public water supplies controlled by the City of Wilmington.
Council member and Water Committee Chairwoman Kelsey Swindler started off by addressing concerns about the ordinance.
“It’s a big disappointment that the state is not going to come through in the way we thought it would,” she said. “So, we had some hard conversations over the last week to talk about the future of this proposal and to better understand the capability of the water fund and moving forward.”
Swindler talked about whether they could move forward with this project without having to raise to rates, and doing it without hurting the water fund, which stands at $2.34 million.
She said she discussed the issues with Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker, along with Auditor David Hollingsworth and Deputy Auditor Mary Kay Vance.
Swindler said that, out of the meeting, they learned they could use money from the fund. In a letter regarding the costs, Hollingworth and Vance stated, “We have looked at the current cash balance in the Water Fund and we feel that, barring any unforeseen or catastrophic events, the water department current balance should be sufficient to support this capital project.”
But, according to Swindler, that won’t preclude the city from seeking grant money.
Before the ordinance was put to a vote, each of the other council members gave their final words on the topic. Matt Purkey agreed that the money issue was concerning to him, but he was satisfied by the auditors’ information.
Joe Spicer said he was disappointed that it would not be funded by grants and about the health issues that could affect some people. Lonnie Stuckert highlighted health issues and said there should have been more discussions, and he echoed concerns about rates being raised. Jonathan McKay said he agreed with Purkey and said that he trusts the auditors and that “the time has come to vote on it.” Bill Liermann said that his overall concerns were about the costs, which he thought would end up costing more down the road. Mark McKay, serving as Council President Pro-Tem, said that he thinks the project is covered.
After the passing vote, Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker addressed Liermann, Spicer, and Stuckert.
“I feel that I hired the best engineers for introducing fluoride into our water,” said Shidaker. “Public safety is a top priority of ours.”
Also at council:
• During Mayor John Stanforth’s report, he talked about Honor Flight 2 set for April 29 and said if anyone knows someone who should take part, they should contact Jack Powell, Honor Flight Dayton, or the Mayor’s Office.
Stanforth stated the city is looking into automating the water meters with radio control.
He also reported that the city is going to start sealing city parking lots. The lot next to St. Columbkille had been sealed last year and this year, according to Stanforth, they will be sealing the lot on North Mulberry and East Locust streets. They will do it for the parking lots out at the park except for the one by the soccer fields due to construction happening in the summer.
Stanforth also gave praise to the Murphy Theatre workers for doing their work in 14-degree weather.
• A resolution authorizing the submittal of an application for the NatureWorks 24th round grant application was approved during the Parks and Recreation Committee Report.
• Two resolutions were approved during the Safety/Service Director report. The first was authorizing an agreement with OHI Greenhouse, LLC, providing for a project and tax pursuant to the State Enterprise Zone Program, and making determination in connection therewith, repealing all prior conficting ordinances.
The second was adopting final legislation for a “Safe Routes to School” project to install sidewalks on Truesdell Street.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574