By Richard Mundy
For Hometown News
The Ormond Beach City Commission voted unanimously to approve millage rates for the coming year and adopted the budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.
The millage, or property tax rate, was approved at $4.0123 per $1,000 of taxable value of property. This is not considered a tax increase under state law as it is a rolled back rate. Added to that rate are three General Obligation Bond amounts, approved by previous referendum, totaling $0.313. The total budget is about $72.8 million.
Mayor Ed Kelley had previously stated that 65 percent of the city's revenue comes from residences. During the past week he showed several citizens, who protested the rate at the previous commission meeting, what their actual tax would be, and in all cases it was lower under the new rate.
Commissioner Troy Kent lauded the mayor's efforts in helping to sell the tax rate to residents. "I want to publicly praise Mayor Kelley for his diligence in getting the correct figures to demonstrate that those citizens' property tax actually went down compared to last year."
However, Commissioner Kent wasn't so agreeable on the city's contracts for fluoride supply. He raised a number of concerns concerning the purchase of certain chemicals, including those used in the fluoridation of the city's water supply.
It was ultimately decided to retain an outside party to perform an initial batch analysis of the chemicals in question at time of delivery, most specifically hydrofluorosilicic acid, more commonly known as fluoride, and make it mandatory that suppliers of chemicals present a document upon delivery showing the chemical makeup, including contaminants.
It was observed that the amount of fluoride present in the water supply is being tested three times a day but the original makeup of the chemical itself, including contaminants, was not analyzed anywhere at any time during the process.
Celeste Philip, acting director of the Volusia County Health Department, quoted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that declared "... fluoride is one of the top 10 greatest health achievements in the past century."
But Alan Burton, chairman of the Volusia Soil and Water Conservation District stated that by putting fluoride in the drinking supply the city was in essence "medicating" its citizens. "If you're going to medicate me, get my consent first," Mr. Burton said.
At the crux of the resolution was a 1957 referendum approving the use of fluoride in the drinking supply. The feeling among most of the commissioners was the only way to overturn that decision was to have another referendum and let the citizens decide what they wanted.
Also in the meeting, commissioners approved a resolution recommending to the Florida Public Service Commission, the oversight agency for Florida Power and Light, to allow an "opt out" choice to customers of FPL regarding "Smart Meters."