News

F.C. Absorbs Yet Another $ Blow: Arlington Co. Demands $2 Million

Claims It Undercharged for City’s Share of Detention Center Use

A bombshell was dropped on the Falls Church City Council at its work session Tuesday night when F.C.’s new chief financial officer Richard LaCondre reported that Arlington County has suddenly billed the City an extra $2.2 million for its alleged share of use of the Arlington Detention Center since 2008.

The development comes on top of the major hits taken by the City due to the outcome of a court ruling requiring it refund almost $5 million out of its general fund back to its water fund over two years, and a cascade of angry demands and lawsuits filed by businesses, residents and government entities in Fairfax County seeking “refunds” from the City for allegedly overcharging for its water.

With Falls Church maintaining an annual operating budget of only $60 million, each of these blows has had a considerable impact.
The latest development was buried in LaCondre’s report Tuesday, a report that otherwise indicated the City is on track through the second quarter of the current fiscal year in terms of revenue and expenditure projections and actual receipts.

While Mayor Nader Baroukh called the new Arlington County demand and outstanding water suits “caveats” to an otherwise positive report Tuesday, he clarified to the News-Press yesterday that he by no means takes the new developments lightly.

He said he’s contacted City staff with urgent requests to learn about every aspect of the new Arlington County development, which apparently caught everyone on the City Council at Tuesday night’s meeting by surprise.

“I am very concerned about this, and will be watching very closely every step of the process in the effort to resolve this,” Baroukh said.

In an interview with the News-Press following the open session of Tuesday’s meeting, F.C. City Manager Wyatt Shields explained that routine annual “truing up” exercises between Arlington and Falls Church on Arlington Detention Center expenses versus projections suddenly went haywire last month when Arlington presented F.C. with a bill for a whopping sum.

Shields said that Arlington claimed a clerical error in undercharging the City for the fiscal years beginning 2008. The $2.2 million figure presented by LaCondre Tuedday, Shields added, was based on the assumption that Arlington is correct such that it included a revised projection for the coming fiscal year, as well.

But the matter is unresolved, Shields said, pending negotiations between the two jurisdictions. He said that number arose out of exchanges between the “numbers crunchers” on each side, but only now is rising to the level of policy decisions by leaders of the two entities, with the eventual outcome still in doubt.

Other developments from LaCondre’s report on the first two quarters of the current fiscal year show sales tax revenues running ahead of projections, even though those projections included extra revenue from the opening of the new BJ’s Wholesale Warehouse.