Only Wichita Residents To Vote On Fluoride Issue

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

State statute only allows residents of Wichita to vote on the fluoride matter on November 6th.

Several communities, like Rose Hill and Valley Center, buy water from Wichita, but those residents will not have a chance to vote.

"If we have to get charged more for the water, if we're going to be drinking the water, we should have either an option to not use the water or use someone else's water," said Louis Foreman, owner of Louis' Cafe in Rose Hill.

Council members in Wichita have not determined how the cost increase would affect wholesale customers.

A preliminary report showed an ongoing cost of about $570,600 per year, which would pay for the chemicals, energy, personnel and other expenses necessary to fluoridate the water.

"There's some concern that if there are ongoing costs of the fluoridation, that it might raise our rates. That's not always popular," said Kathy Raney, city administrator for Rose Hill.

Dentists in the community said the benefits may outweigh the costs.

"I have nothing to gain by putting fluoride in the water. Obviously, I'm going to do less dentistry if patients don't have problems," said Dr. Mark Troilo, dentist in Rose Hill. "That's what I'm supposed to do, I'm supposed to promote good health."

Wichita City council member Janet Miller said the cost of water fluoridation would add about 9 cents per month to the average water bill in Wichita.

The City supplies water in full to the following cities: Eastborough, Rose Hill, Benton, Kechi, Andover, Derby, Valley Center and Bentley. Water from Wichita serves as a backup for Maize and Chisholm Creek Utilities, which include Bel Aire and Park City. The City also supplies Rural Water Districts #1, #3, and #8.

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Press Release from the City of Wichita

The City of Wichita has received many inquiries regarding whether residents of cities surrounding Wichita will be allowed to vote in the Nov. 6 general election on the issue of whether the City's water supply should be fluoridated.

State statute only allows residents of Wichita to vote on the fluoride matter.

The petition proposing the fluoridation ordinance was submitted to the City of Wichita through a process established by state statute (K.S.A. 12-3013). The statute designates who may vote on a proposed ordinance submitted to a city by petition. The statute requires the petition to be signed by electors of the city receiving the petition and the ordinance to be submitted to a vote of the "electors of the City."

The statute governs the petition and election process. The City of Wichita and the Sedgwick County Election Commissioner do not have the authority to change the process to allow residents of Sedgwick County or residents of other cities, who contract for water from the City, to vote in the special election.

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