A constituent recently called my office to inquire why I have not written about the Falls Church Water lawsuit in my column and newsletters. The answer is pretty simple: I don’t comment directly on matters involving Fairfax County until the litigation is over.
The Circuit Court rendered its decision on the issues in the Falls Church Water matter, the Virginia Supreme Court declined to hear the City’s appeal, and Judge Ney’s ruling is now the law. Nonetheless, local government attorneys continue to contemplate the implications for customers of the Falls Church Water Department. City water rates charged to county customers are significantly higher: a typical Fairfax County customer pays $85.19 quarterly to the City for water service; a customer of Fairfax Water pays about $50.97 for the same service. Ninety-two percent of the City’s customers are residents of Fairfax County.
One of the largest institutional water customers is Fairfax County, which has several county facilities, including schools and libraries, on the Falls Church water grid. As a customer, Fairfax County is seeking a refund of its overpayments to Falls Church City, with interest, for calendar years 2007 through 2010. Since there is a three-year statute of limitations for erroneous tax assessments, the county must file suit before December 31, 2010, to recover for tax year 2007. If private homeowners or business owners wish to seek refunds for overpayments as a result of the court decision, they are urged strongly to consult an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that their rights are protected.
Sewer rates for Fairfax County properties are set by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and are not part of the suit. To avoid costs and aggravation of a separate billing system, both the City and Fairfax Water simply act as billing agents for sewer services to their customers and remit those collections to the county.
Congratulations are in order for Fairfax County Deputy Chief of Police Steve Sellers, whose selection as the new police chief for Albemarle County, Virginia, was announced this week. I first met Steve in the mid-1990s, when he was the Assistant Commander for the Mason District Police Station. His ability to interact with a diverse and growing community, and his grasp of new technology to assist police officers, was obvious any time you saw Steve out in the neighborhoods. Following the September 11 events in 2001, Steve helped create the Northern Virginia Regional Intelligence Center, and he also led the Washington Area Sniper Prosecution Task Force, which resulted in convictions of Lee Malvo and John Mohammed. As he was honing his police skills, Steve also pursued a Masters Degree in Public Administration at Virginia Tech. Steve’s 28-year police career with Fairfax County will end in mid-January, when he transitions to a new jurisdiction and a new uniform. Thank you, Steve, for your service to Mason District and Fairfax County residents. Best of luck in your exciting new position.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org