Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields stated tonight that “out of an abundance of caution,” Falls Church will delay a decision to increase in its water rate following repeated insistances from Fairfax County that a rate increase represents a violation of the Fairfax Circuit Court ruling against Falls Church in its water dispute with the county. Falls Church “is in discussions with Fairfax Water regarding the concerns expressed by its outside counsel Hunton and Williams about the City’s proposed water rate increase,” stated Shields. The rate increase was slated to be voted into place by the F.C. City Council tonight, but was deferred to June 27 by a unanimous vote by the Council.
Shields said, “The City has held water rates flat since 2005, during which time the costs of purchasing water, electricity, chemicals, and asphalt have increased. Over the period of the rate freeze, the City has invested approximately $34 million to improve and expand critical utility infrastructure, including U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-mandated improvements to the disposal of water treatment residuals at the Washington Aqueduct, distribution system water main replacements, pump station improvements, automated meter reading equipment and storage tank maintenance.”
He said that the City’s consultant indicated that covering the costs of these facets would require an 8 percent rate increase in the coming year, which would average $2 to $8 per quarter for the average water user, and keep the City’s rates more than 10 percent below the regional average.