September 3, 2014

Au Gres opts against fluoride funding

Sets funds for roadwork while preparing long-term plans

Posted

Au GRES — No fluoride will be added to the Au Gres water system.

The decision came at an Au Gres city council special meeting, scheduled for March 12 to determine capital improvement plans for the city, opting out of spending any of those capital funds on fluoridated water.

Councilman Larry Malace said the city put together a proposal for capital improvement projects over the next five years to send to the state. City Manager Pat Killingbeck said adding fluoride to the city water was added to the agenda to determine if the city should fund it as a capital project in the future. The council ultimately voted against doing so 4-1, with Keith Edmonds as the sole no vote.

“They decided they didn’t want to spend the additional funds to go through with that,” Killingbeck said. “Our water and sewer funds, we run pretty close. We don’t have a lot of extra money and didn’t want to have to raise rates to increase that type of thing.”

Malace said he felt it is an issue that has some good points and bad points, but ultimately is something he felt would be better suited to a ballot initiative.

He said that while he thinks it would be great for the kids in the city, there are numerous other people in the city as well, and he does not believe the council has enough information on what the population would like as a whole to move on the issue.

“For me, it would depend on the people, the voters,” Malace said. “Maybe (you could) put it on the ballot, but you’d have to have enough support from people to vote for it.”

If someone in the city is interested in getting fluoride on the ballot, Malace said they could circulate a petition and get enough signatures.

He added he would still need to know what the costs to the city would be for getting fluoride into the water supply, and whether or not it could be done with the existing water facilities.

Mayor LaVern Dittenber said he opposed putting the measure on the ballot during the council’s regular March 5 meeting, adding that with the school getting city water and having students from outside city limits, there were more people affected than just residents.

“No matter what you do with a program like that, it’s very controversial, but the council decided it didn’t want to spend capital project funds on that,” Killingbeck added.

Among the other highlights from the capital projects for 2013, the city is looking to replace 10 tables and fire pits in the city park at a cost of $3,000. Malace said the city is looking at adding and improving things at the park, and similar replacements of tables and fire pits are planned in 2014, 2015, and 2017.

The city will also continue work on area roadways in conjunction with Au Gres Township. Michigan Avenue and West Street in 2013 and South Street in 2014 are on the agenda to be repaved. About $45,000 is budgeted for 2013, and another $40,000 in 2014, with the funds to come from the city’s local street fund and a 2-percent grant from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe jointly granted to the city and township.

“We’re working with Au Gres Township on the roads,” Killingbeck said. “We’re working with them to fix drainage and jointly resurface the street.”

She said those roads usually end up being the last ones worked on, due to being jointly controlled by two municipalities. Since they received the 2-percent grant in November, very little work has been done so far, but Killingbeck expects that to change as the weather improves. She added the two municipalities would continue to apply for additional 2-percent grants to help finance the work.

Resurfacing work on Mill Street and Overlay Street is also planned in 2015 and 2016 at a cost of $35,000 per year.

On the major roads side, the city is planning to seal cracks on Main Street in 2013 for $10,000, while planning for a resurfacing in 2017 in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Rural Task Force, which provides money for improving roads in rural areas. The estimated cost of the resurfacing is $105,000.

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