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Opponents wait for panel to look at adding city fluoride

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The local anti-fluoride movement wants to know why the city is dragging its feet with plans to set up a panel to study the pros and cons of putting the colorless, tasteless additive in Watertown’s water.

Organizer Troy M. Walts, 380 Brainard St., asked Monday night for the status of a panel that the city is putting together to look at the issue. He said he is willing help form the group by giving the city the names of dentists, doctors and chiropractors who could be appointed.

“I have nothing to report,” said City Water Superintendent Michael J. Sligar, who hopes to have more information at next month’s Watertown City Council meeting.

Mr. Sligar is scheduled to meet next week with members of the Jefferson-Lewis Counties Dental Society to talk about the issue and should know more after that.

Councilman Joseph M. Butler Jr., who supports fluoride, cautioned Mr. Sligar “not to stack the deck,” saying the panel should be representative of people on both sides of the issue.

Mr. Sligar also continues to recommend fluoride use, as does the Dental Society.

Starting out with about 15 city residents, the group has been working to persuade the council to eliminate fluoride from the water supply because they believe it damages teeth and causes other health problems.

To help lobby for support, opponents have created a website and started circulating a petition against fluoride use.

In other businesss, council members also:

n Approved an amendment to New York Air Brake’s payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for its 748 Starbuck Ave. facility, allowing the company to pay property taxes based on current assessed value rather than the amount agreed to in a mid-1990s agreement.

Based on 2012 tax rates, payment to the city will decrease by $11,036.

n Approved a new two-year contract for City Clerk Ann M. Saunders, who will receive a $3,500 pay raise to $58,500 in the agreement that will run to April 30, 2015.

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