June 25, 2013

Statement on the Water System Sale

Below is a statement I prepared for the Council meeting June 24, 2013, on (TO13-17)-Rev ORDINANCE TO AUTHORIZE SALE OF CITY’S WATER SYSTEM UNDER AGREEMENT OF SALE, CONDITIONED UPON PASSAGE OF NOVEMBER 2013 REFERENDUM AND APPROVAL OF BOUNDARY ADJUSTMENT

Since this is probably the most fiscally consequential ordinance I will ever vote on as a Council member, I’d like to say a few words for the record.

First, the Falls Church water system is older than the City itself, dating to the 1930s, and I want to thank all the people who, over the decades, have run the system with dedication and high competence, right up to today’s work force, who in this water-sale agreement are given a three-year job guarantee at their current level, and who, I believe and hope, will have good prospects of long careers working for one of the nation’s largest, most successful water utilities.

Second, I want to thank the generations of City elected officials, City Managers and City Attorneys who have overseen the honest and effective administration of our water system, all the way up to the current generation of Council members, City Manager, City Attorney, and outside counsel, who forcefully and capably advocated for the City’s interests in the litigation of recent years.

About that litigation: While it’s true that Fairfax was our adversary in this dispute, it was just that, a legal dispute between two jurisdictions. It was not a “water war” with a good side and an evil side. Facts were in contention, multiple courts and judges weighed in. Sometimes rulings favored Fairfax, sometimes Falls Church. In the end, an agreement was reached through judicial mediation that I think is a fair deal for Falls Church.

Between now and the November voter referendum, as our citizens examine the agreement, I look forward to having a chance to explain why I believe that ratifying it will be good for our taxpayers, and will help open doors to a bright future for our City and schools.

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