The decision not to sell Falls Church Water has not settled well with at least one customer.
McLean resident Kirk Randall has gotten his water from the water company since 1959. Randall said unlike utilities such as Dominion Power and Washington Gas, the Falls Church City Council can charge its county customers pretty much whatever it wants.
"This means that over 120,000 Fairfax County customers will continue to pay nearly 50 percent more for their water than their neighbors," said Randall.
The City of Falls Church decided to end discussions with Fairfax Water Wednesday to sell the 80-year-old utility company. Mayor Nader Baroukh said the city took a business approach to the negotiations but is happy to continue providing water. The city sent out a Request for Expression of Interest in February and had nine possible suitors emerge, including Fairfax Water. The city set the minimum bid at $44 million.
In a statement on their website, Fairfax Water said they tried to negotiate a sale, “that respects the citizens of both Falls Church and Fairfax County, Fairfax Water regrets to report that negotiations to merge the water systems have not been successful.” The statement continued to say: “The litigation in which the city has challenged the legality of Fairfax County's water regulation ordinance is expected to resume. That ordinance seeks to protect the interests of Fairfax County customers who purchase water from municipalities like the City of Falls Church. Fairfax County and Fairfax Water have filed motions to dismiss the City's lawsuit, and those motions are pending.”
In December, Fairfax County enacted an ordinance permitting it to exert regulatory review of the rates the city charges its county customers. Randall said Falls Church has sued the county over the ordinance and is preparing an intense lobbying effort to persuade the General Assembly to pass a law that would block it.
City of Falls Church officials did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
"Falls Church has already collected nearly $2 million of customer revenues to pay for its legal and lobbying expenses, and is fully prepared to spend an unlimited amount of its customers' revenues to defeat Fairfax County,” Randall said. “You can bet that if the city's residents had to pay these millions of dollars out of their own pockets rather than their county customers, the city council would have stopped this overcharging decades ago. The Falls Church City Council just doesn't want to lose its county customers, who it treats as its personal ATM machine."