Voters will decide if fluoride is added to city drinking water, but most likely not until November 2008.

Voters will decide if fluoride is added to city drinking water, but most likely not until November 2008.

The City Council accepted a petition Thursday night signed by more than 400 registered voters opposed to adding fluoride to city water.

“It's rewarding to get to this point,” said Kirk Huttleston, the Chestnut Street resident who headed the grassroots petition drive. “We've been working towards this day for about 15 months.”

City Manager Mark Ryckman said the document will be forwarded to city attorney Pam Gee for review and to determine if a local law is needed to put the issue to a public referendum.

Mayor Frank Coccho said he is confident the city will need to adopt a local law prior to the issue being placed on a ballot.

   

Adopting a local law would require two separate council votes and a public hearing over a 30-day period.

“It's my opinion this will be untimely for the 2007 election ballot,” Coccho said.

Huttleston conceded that time will likely run out to wrap up all the details before Oct. 1, deadline to place items on the Nov. 6, general election ballot.

   

“There are substantially steps that need to be done,” Huttleston said. “So it looks like this will not be voted on until 2008, but if that's the case that's fine.”

Gee told city leaders in July that a petition signed by 10 percent of the city's registered voters who cast a ballot in the last gubernatorial election could force the issue to a public vote.

The City Council voted, 7-2, in May to fluoridate the city's water after supporters came up with $100,000, roughly half of the start-up costs. The remaining costs will be paid for by the city.

   

City leaders have said if the referendum vote is pushed back until 2008 if would have little effect on the project, which is not slated to begin until 2009.

Tom Reed, the man Coccho will face in the Nov. 6, general election, helped carry petitions to drive the controversial issue to a public vote.

Coccho, a fluoride supporter, has supported a referendum on the issue.