Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields, who is present full-time this week in the Fairfax Circuit Court during Phase II of the case pitting the Fairfax County Water Authority against the City of Falls Church, told the News-Press today that he expects the trial to run to the end of the week, with a decision by Judge R. Terrence Nye not expected anytime soon.
Shields was in the courtroom, but his role in the case was limited to a videotaped deposition taken of him last spring, focused on the question of whether or not Shields asserted the Falls Church water system had “exclusive rights’ to provide water service in areas it has traditionally served in Fairfax County. Over 100,000 of the Falls Church water system’s 120,000 customers reside in Fairfax County. It was unclear whether Shields actually made that assertion during the lengthy deposition.
This phase of the trial, following an earlier ruling, now being appealed, by Judge Ney asserting that Falls Church’s practice of taking a “return on investment” from its water system’s proceeds constituted an unconstitutional “tax” on county user, involves charges by the county that the City has been unfairly demanding exclusive rights to providing service in the areas of the county it has traditionally served since the 1930s.
Only upon the conclusion of this phase of the trial will a three-judge panel be established by the State Supreme Court to weigh in on all the issues in the dispute begin to convene.