City of Falls Church Prepares for Next Independent Review of Its Water Rates

Just a week after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors called for the completion of a study of the City of Falls Church Water System’s rate structure by its own Consumer Protection Commission, Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields told the F.C. City Council at a work session tonight that the City is about to launch its own independent review of its rates, something he said has been done routinely every five years.

Shields said an outside consultant will be retained by the City within the next two weeks, according to a pre-planned schedule, and that the results will not be available until the fall, in time for deliberations on next year’s budget. While Fairfax County officials are concerned about the fact Falls Church water rates are higher than those charged by the Fairfax County Water System, Shields said that Falls Church’s system has kept its rates unchanged for years, the result of pay freezes that other jurisdictions have no imposed and therefore, their rates have gone up. Another cost to the Falls Church system has been heightened security measures, including fencing, motion detectors, alarms and video surveillance since, among other things, the Falls Church system serves some sensitive federal government agencies in the region.

By May, Shields reported tonight, the Falls Church system is set to expend the first $100,000 of a $12 million Kirby Road improvement to its system, that project being entirely in Fairfax County where the Falls Church system serves over 100,000 customers. More capital improvements related to increasing capacity are expected as new construction projects are being expected to launch in the Tysons Corner region of the Falls Church service area, especially as the recession thaws and the Metro “rail to Dulles” project opens four new Metro stations in Tysons Corner.