Letters to the Editor: February 23 – 29, 2012

Sell F.C. Water System? Watch What You Wish For


Last week’s news story and editorial about the city’s proposal to sell its water system to a for-profit utility could leave citizens with unreasonably high expectations for a financial windfall coming their way. We’ll have to wait until March 2, when expressions of interest are due, to see whether utilities are indeed clamoring to snap up the city’s water utility assets. But if a for-profit utility were to purchase the city’s water assets at a price above “book value” (which for Falls Church’s system is very, very low), it will have to make a compelling case to the State Corporation Commission before such a premium is permitted to be recovered through higher rates.

A potential purchaser will have to consider that premium recovery is not necessarily assured and that it could end up overpaying for the system. A potential purchaser will also evaluate the political climate that comes with the newly-acquired assets. That climate has been quite frigid recently and it may take the for-profit purchaser many years to build a good relationship with its new county customers. Finally, I note that an asset sale to a for-profit utility may produce unintended consequences for city residents who are expecting a financial bonanza. If the system is indeed sold and the new owner receives SCC approval to raise its rates, citizens must understand that rates will be equally assessed to all of the city’s existing customers, both city and county. To charge city customers a rate that is lower than the rate assessed similarly situated county customers would be discriminatory and contrary to SCC practice.

When the dust settles, City Council and citizens may come to realize that the most practical resolution is not an outright cash sale but rather a merger with another large municipal water supplier such as Fairfax Water. The unification of these two systems would lead to increased economies of scale (resulting in lower per unit costs), increased reliability (three sources could supply water to the city, not just one), and lower rates for all of Falls Church’s existing county and city customers. The latter would be welcome relief, indeed.

Kirk F. Randall



Spanish Should Be Required Every Year in Schools


I am concerned that neither the Falls Church middle school nor the high school requires students to study Spanish every year through graduation.

The irony of this situation is that a native Spanish-speaking student who might have been required to participate in ESL programs upon enrollment will, upon graduation, be more linguistically qualified to compete for a sales or a customer service position than would a classmate with no or only an intermediate level of Spanish.

To give students the best opportunity to compete in the fast-changing employment realities in America I strongly believe that Falls Church City should require all its students to study New World Spanish every year until they reach a level of advanced proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and understanding. Of course, if their schedules allow it, the students could also begin studying other languages, but high proficiency in Spanish for every graduating student should be a key goal.

Peter Raudenbush

Falls Church


Wammies Illustrate Music Thriving in Falls Church


I enjoyed reading the front page article covering the Wammies at the State Theater. It’s great that Falls Church is becoming a destination for people to hear live music. The article mentioned a number of best Pubs and Clubs near the State Theater that offer live music including JV’s, Claire and Don’s, Dogwood Tavern, The Mad Fox and 4P’s. There are also several community groups within the same corridor that host live music such as the Tinner Hill Foundation, who hosts top acts at the annual Blues Festival and Home Concerts, The Village Preservation and Improvement Society (VPIS), who sponsors professional live music through Summer in the Parks and has hosted many Wammie Award winners at Cherry Hill and in Home Concerts throughout the city, and Creative Cauldron/ArtSpace, who hosts professional concerts (including several Wammie winners) from its’ theater on Maple Ave. Keep supporting live music in Falls Church!

Bruce Turner



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