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Fluoridation, streets face city

A public hearing on how to fund street maintenance and a discussion on fluoride top The Dalles City Council’s agenda at their Monday, July 8, meeting, starting at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

The public hearing centers on two different measures the council is considering as options for the Nov. 4 ballot. Their initial plan was to seek a 3-cent-per-gallon increase in the gas tax that currently funds city street maintenance. However, at the county’s request, they are also considering participation in a county service district property tax.

The city is responsible for maintaining 88 miles of streets within town and is seeking funds to catch up on a backlog of repairs. Officials want to cover the cost of a revenue bond for $6.1 million with a term of 20 years for repairs and improvements of main arterials and 60 of the 315 blocks of streets within neighborhoods that also need repairs. The tax would yield about $450,000 more in revenue each year.

The county’s revenue for maintenance and repair of 700 miles of roads has fallen from $3.75 million per year to $2.5 million in the upcoming fiscal year. The reason for that drop in funding, said Chuck Covert, chair of the county’s Road Advisory Committee, in an earlier meeting, is the loss of federal compensation for logging cutbacks in national forests.

The joint proposal currently being considered is for $2 million per year, $1.25 of which would go to the county and the remaining $750,000 to the city.

The fluoridation issue comes before the city council as a result of concerns expressed by Robert Boyet of The Dalles during the Feb. 11 council meeting. In response to those concerns, the city decided to provide an opportunity for expanded discussion of the issue.

“It is my belief that fluoride, especially industrial and not pharmaceutical-grade fluoride, is a dangerous toxic chemical, which is unnecessarily added without my consent to my drinking water,” Boyet wrote June 18 in The Chronicle.

The Dalles has been fluoridating its municipal water supply since 1957, when a local service organization purchased the first equipment for the purpose.

“The practice of fluoridation of public water supplies is recommended by US and world health agencies,” wrote Dave Anderson, public works director, in a staff report on the subject. Among those supporting fluoridation are the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. Centers of Disease Control, and the American Dental Association.

“The CDC lists fluoridation of drinking water as one of the ten greatest public health achievements of the 20th century,” Anderson added.

Local dentists have also been quoted as noting a distinct reduction in tooth decay in children in cities with fluoridated water supplies, compared to those without.

Anderson also quoted the U.S. Surgeon General stating that “community water fluoridation continues to be the most cost-effective, equitable and safe means to provide protection from tooth decay in a community” and that “every $1 invested in Fluoridation saves $38 or more in treatment costs.”

Anderson acknowledged that fluoridation remains a controversial topic with opponents citing a possible link between fluoride and cancer.

“However, the American Cancer Society has currently posted information stating that, after review of over 50 population-based studies [and other studies], the general consensus among the reviews done to date is that there is no strong evidence of a link between water fluoridation and cancer,” Anderson wrote.

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