Mayor Gardner: F.C. Council to Act Swiftly In Response to Fairfax Water Ruling

In the hours following the ruling by the Fairfax Circuit Court enjoining the City of Falls Church from drawing a “return on investment” from its water fund, Falls Church Mayor Robin Gardner, in an exclusive interview with the News-Press today said that the F.C. City Council is taking the matter as a “top priority” due to its impact on the water system and the Falls Church community, and that a imminent closed session with the City’s legal counsel is being arranged.

“We are weighing our next steps,” Gardner said. “I am disappointed by the judge’s ruling because I felt our legal team made excellent arguments in the case.”¬†She said that since she is not an attorney, she could not comment at this point on the details of the 13-page ruling handed down late yesterday by Fairfax Circuit Court Judge R. Terrence Ney.

The ruling enjoins the City from transferring approximately $2.2 million from its water fund to its general fund, as has been the City’s practice annually since 2003. The order is considered a major blow to the City’s efforts to balance its operating budget, already under strain from declining real estate tax revenues, both this year and next. Judge Ney’s ruling enjoins the City from the transfers for Fiscal Year 2009 and 2010, and that henceforth it must set water rates that “will result in receipts equal to expense” of operating the water system alone, and that the City “may not include as an ‘expense’ any surplus to be transferred to the general fund.”