City Council Moves Forward Placing Fluoride Decision on Ballot

City Council at the May 8 meeting approved a resolution for a ballot title for the November election addressing the question of fluoride, and decided to table a psilocybin ballot title for next month’s meeting.

The council held a public hearing on and approved a resolution for calling an election to submit the question of providing fluoridation of Public Water Supply. The question that will be posed to voters in the November election this year is, “Shall the City of Lebanon continue fluoridation of the public water supply?”

The city has been fluoridating its public water supply since 2001. Fluoridation is funded through city water fees and managed by the Director of Public Works.  The use of fluoride compounds in the water system costs approximately $25,000 annually which includes materials, chemicals, and staff time.

At the Nov. 8, 2023 City Council meeting, Public Works Director Jason Williams provided bullet points regarding the city’s use of fluoride:

The City Council in April 2000 chose to enact an ordinance requiring fluoridated water in its system.

They currently dose .7 parts per million, which equates to .18 gallons of fluoride per 150,000 gallons of water.

Due to fluoride, the dosing of caustic soda must be increased to bring the pH balance back up.

The City’s 2022-23 budget was $12,800 for fluoride and $14,715 for caustic dosing.

Staff must wear suits and respirators when handling the fluoride.

Images within the new water treatment plant compared to images within the fluoride containment room show evidence of corrosion on metallic door handles, plastic parts and pipes in the fluoride room.

The issue at hand originated from several residents who beseeched the city to discontinue putting fluoride in the water supply, stating concerns about possible health damage caused by the compound. Councilor Dave Workman took their concerns to the table, noting he was more interested in allowing the residents to make the decision rather than council. Mayor Ken Jackola and councilors Wayne Dykstra, Carl Mann and Jeremy Salvage agreed with his stance, while councilors Michelle Steinhebel and KJ Ullfers believed this was an issue best made by a council elected by its residents. Steinhebel noted there is a procedure by way of petition that residents can put the question on a ballot themselves.

The next public hearing on the agenda addressed a resolution to refer to voters a measure proposing the prohibition on psilocybin-related businesses.

State law allows for the manufacture, transportation, delivery, sale and possession of

psilocybin, a psychedelic drug found in certain mushrooms. State law provides that a local

government may adopt an ordinance to be referred to the voters to prohibit the establishment of

licensed psilocybin product manufacturers and/or psilocybin services centers within the City of


Steinhebel said she’d like to see more of the city’s history on the psilocybin question placed on the ballot, so the council agreed to table the discussion and vote for the next meeting.

In other business:

  • The council held a public hearing for and approved an ordinance amending Chapter
  • Eight: Transportation of the Lebanon Comprehensive Plan. Following the development of Colonia Paz apartments next to Walmart, the amendment includes changes to the adopted 2018 Lebanon Transportation System Plan (TSP) to reflect a proposed roundabout at the intersection of Weldwood and Cascade drives.
  • Jackola mentioned his appreciation for a new sign at Ralston Park’s rose garden that is maintained by the Lebanon Garden Club.
  • The council held a public hearing for and approved a resolution amending fees and charges for building permit fees.
  • The council approved a contract to lease the city’s vehicles through Enterprise Fleet Management. According to Finance Director Brandon Neish, acquiring and decommissioning the city’s vehicles through Enterprise creates a more efficient system. It would not include police, heavy equipment or bussing vehicles. Neish explained a “significant” amount of staff hours are put into managing the fleet from procurement to end-of-use. Using the Enterprise program would shorten the life cycle of the city’s vehicles from 10 years to approximately two years and save the city in costs (better fuel economy, lower maintenance, less depreciation), he said. Neish estimated a savings of about $700,000 over 10 years. Linn County and the City of Sweet Home use Enterprise Fleet Management.
  • Neish provided a demonstration on the city’s new web-based budget book created by ClearGov.
  • The council approved the purchase of 390 W. Maple St. for $110,000. Situated on a corner parcel of a block largely owned by the City of Lebanon, Public Works Director said the city has been setting money aside for eight or nine years now with the intention of buying the property once it went up for sale.
  • Interim City Manager Ron Whitlatch updated the council on progress being made toward entering into a contract with Tate Public Affairs for the purpose of legislative representation and lobbying on the city’s behalf. The city will also be entering into an intergovernmental agreement with Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments for grant writing services.
  • Jeremy Guenther informed the council about varisistors [sic] that, according to him, are now code for all homes in America “to level out surges that come into your house and potentially damage electronics.”
  • Jason Christensen, owner of Sleep Trailer LLC, informed the council he was awarded a grant to park his sleep trailer at various locations in the county in something of a pilot project. Lebanon Local reported on his first test of the trailer in Lebanon last year. Now he is looking for “a corner” somewhere that he can place his trailer temporarily (three months) for service.
  • The council heard an update report on Lebanon Downtown Association.