At a work session tonight, the Falls Church City Council gave the go-ahead for the preparation of an ordinance to authorize the sale of the City’s water system, set to come before the Council at its twice-monthly business meeting next Monday night, May 14.
The approval of the “first reading” of the ordinance at that time will be only a technicality as the City awaits the completion of a bid process for acquisition of the system that is set for May 25. Filling in the blanks, so to speak, from the outcome of the bid process, the Council would bring the matter back to a second vote in June that would require a three-fourths majority of the Council to approve. Approval at that time would be to place the decision of the Council on the November 6 ballot for approval by Falls Church voters.
Despite their vote this Monday, the Council will retain the option of rejecting all the bid proposals and taking another course, such as to set up the City’s own Water Authority to operate the system in the future. However, the keen interest shown in the acquisition of the system, with over 120,000 customers, mostly in neighboring Fairfax County, suggests that some lively bidding will occur on May 25 once initial bids are opened on that date.
The proposed ordinance also does not stipulate how proceeds from a sale of the system will be used. The City is braced for a legal challenge from Fairfax County if, indeed, the decision is to sell its system.