Less than a day after receiving a communique from the chairman of the Fairfax County Water Authority, the City of Falls Church issued a firm response to the chairman’s insistence that Falls Church drop consideration of raising its water rates. The Falls Church City Council is considering a rate increase currently, in accordance with a recommendation by a respected consultant, and a vote on its decision is expected later this month.
A statement by F.C.’s Director of Communications Barbara Gordon issued late this afternoon noted that Falls Church “has been fully open and transparent about the proposed water rate increase,” adding that, “It must be noted first, that the City has kept rates flat for six years. Over this period of time, Fairfax Water has raised its rates 33 percent and Fairfax County has raised sewer rates over 80 percent. The City must raise its rate eight percent next year to fund operating costs and future capital costs.”
Gordon noted, “Even with the proposed rate increase, the City’s water rates will be below the average for the national capital region and lower than two-thirds of the public water utilities in Virginia.”
The response was swift in reaction to a six-page, single-spaced letter from Philip W. Allin, chair of the Fairfax County Water Authority issued yesterday, and now posted on the Water Authority’s web site. The Fairfax letter charged that the water study by the Municipal and Financial Services Group (MFSG) “is flawed and does not support the significant rate increases proposed.” It said the proposed rate increase “puts Falls Church on a trajectory to charge water rates that are 60 percent higher than the rates Fairfax Water charges its own customers.”
Proposing an unspecified “win-win” alternative approach, the Fairfax letter concludes, “Now is the time for the City Council to chart a better course that will result in efficiencies for both the City’s inside and outside customers, as well as greater system reliability. We invite you to discuss a new relationship that could result in mutual benefits for all of our customers.”
Responding to that suggestion, Gordon stated, “Over the past several months, City officials have suggested to Fairfax officials that we sit down together to talk about water service in the region and we are pleased that Fairfax Water is accepting our overtures.”