Spokane City Council votes to table fluoride vote indefinitely

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane City Council unanimously voted Monday to table the fluoride ordinance indefinitely.

This decision means the City Council is not putting it on any council agenda for the foreseeable future, though council members will continue to hear public testimony on fluoridation during Monday’s council meeting.

Additionally, the council will still vote whether to accept grant money for fluoridation, courtesy of Arcora Foundation, a dental health organization.

The council would then have four years to use that money.

The decision follows decades of battling, and the choice to fluoridate the City’s water has been presented to, and shot down by, voters several times over the years.

In August, the City Council hosted a virtual forum discussing fluoridation. Mayor Nadine Woodward argued that the decision should be in the voters’ hands, not the City Council’s. The council, however, has been exploring the idea of fluoridating the water through executive order.

Other organizations have argued that, with school closures during the pandemic affecting some students and lower-income families, fluoridated tap water could help alleviate dental issues for those who cannot afford medical insurance or cannot access dental health programs.

Proponents say adding low levels of fluoride to the city’s water will decrease tooth decay in children and adults by 25 percent.

RELATED: City Council to discuss adding fluoride to Spokane’s water during virtual forum

The council has been in talks with the Arcora Foundation to help finance fluoridation, should it pass. Adding fluoride to Spokane’s water would cost around $4 million. Arcora has offered to provide and raise the money for the city, but it would cost $600,000 a year to maintain. That equates to about two to three dollars per person in the city, per year.

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