SHERIDAN — Following Monday’s City Council meeting, Marty DaBell with Clean Water Sheridan pleaded with the council to enact a moratorium on the addition of fluoride to the city’s water supply until a more informed decision can be made.
“There’s been nothing brought to the table on the anti-fluoridation. You haven’t brought that up, and so you’ve only heard one side of the issue,” DaBell said.
“What I’m begging for tonight is a moratorium on this issue until we can get the public educated and then bring it back to a ballot and let the people vote on this issue like they did before in 1953,” he continued. “That was the last word from the citizens of Sheridan, Wyoming. We do not want water fluoridation. That was the vote. It was a public vote, and it should be standing today unless there’s another vote and the people vote against it.”
DaBell also asked Mayor John Heath to explain why he originally voted “no” on fluoridation and has since changed his mind.
“I voted that way, and then as I got more educated, I saw that there was some benefit to the subject,” Heath said, noting that he spoke with physicians and dentists to learn about the benefits of fluoridation.
Clean Water Sheridan has hired legal counsel to try to halt the addition of fluoride to the water, which is tentatively scheduled for mid- to late August.
Also in public comment following the meeting, firefighter union representative George Neeson asked to touch base with the council on negotiations on the firefighter’s employment contract.
The city and the union have been declared at an impasse, but Neeson said negotiations can continue even as the two parties go into arbitration.
“Nobody ever wins when we go to arbitration,” Neeson said. “We always have that third party that’s going to tell us how we’re going to do our business. What I want to talk to you about tonight is maybe looking at the contract that’s been proposed and how similar it is to how we are currently working. There’s very little change. The contract we proposed models the contract that was the award from the arbitrator last year.”
Neeson said he’d like to get a contract passed that is workable for the firefighters and the city, and then meet together with the city on a regular basis in the next several months to hammer out bigger changes that were proposed by City Council during negotiations.
Neeson said he submitted a memorandum of understanding to Heath that outlined a process for meeting together to reduce the animosity between the two parties and reach an agreement without the pressures of budget deadlines next year.
“I’m always open to new ideas, new suggestions,” Heath said following the meeting. “George and I did speak and I encouraged him to, at any time, and he’s encouraged us at any time, to bring things forward to the negotiations. We can negotiate all the way up until it’s settled in arbitration.”
In other business, City Council:
• approved in the consent agenda a resolution to put the Optional One-Cent Sales Tax on the ballot in November to be considered for renewal. Heath said council members are currently looking at requests for funding and will make a decision on what to support in early September.
At one point, City Council members were considering changing the city’s funding format to make one-cent funds more project-based rather than for operational support for nonprofits and social service organizations.
• approved in the consent agenda five appointments to the Downtown Development Association, which will begin to meet and set up its structure. Arik Jacobson and Dave Huppert were appointed to two-year terms, John Smith and Dick Hammer were appointed to three-year terms, and Councilman Alex Lee was appointed to a one-year term.
• approved on first reading an ordinance that will rezone 2.67 acres of land from R-3 residential to R-1 residential in the Cloud Peak Ranch 16th filing development at the intersection of Mydland Road and Dome Drive. Originally the area was proposed to be rezoned from R-1 to R-3, but nearby neighbors expressed concern about what was allowed, including mult-family housing units, in R-3 zones. The developer said he always intended single family homes, but zoning the land R-1 will make that assurance more certain.
• approved a resolution to vacate 2,074 square feet of West Loucks Street right-of-way to enable residents to build a single story garage in front of their home just west of Highland Avenue. The total road right-of-way width after the vacation will be 170-180 feet wide, which city staff say is adequate to contain the state highway and other public needs along the roadway.
• Went into closed session to discuss real estate. The council reconvened after the session but took no action.