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Votes

What’s in the Water?

Council sets water rate, approves budget.

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<bt>Although Councilmember Edythe Kelleher called the vote largely symbolic, she voted against the plan to raise water and sewer rates for town residents during the June 6 Vienna Town Council meeting.

Kelleher said that the town’s water supply, which comes from the City of Falls Church, is resold to the town twice — it originates in Fairfax County, is sold to Falls Church and then to Vienna. “Is water worth $3.33 in Vienna but only $1.45 in Fairfax County?” Kelleher said. “I believe it's become impossible to open a small water system like Vienna’s without high prices.”

The rates are set by the outside entities, so the town has little choice but to pass along the rate hike. Kelleher, however, suggested analyzing allowing Fairfax Water (formerly the Fairfax County Water Authority) to take over the town’s water supply.

Kelleher noted that during the budget deliberations, Dennis King, director of the town’s Department of Public Works, said it would cost $8 million in infrastructure costs to make the change. This amount is roughly equal to the town’s next two bond issues, Kelleher said.

Town Manager John Schoeberlein said that town staff is currently pursuing how the town might obtain its water directly from Fairfax County.

The rates for both in-town and out-of-town customers have increased by 50 cents per 1,000 gallons for water and 88 cents for sewer. In-town customers will now pay $3.33 for water and $4.45 for sewer.

For out-of-town customers, the rate is $3.71 for water and $4.45 for sewer. The vote passed 5-1 with Kelleher against and Councilmember Sydney Verinder absent.

The council also adopted next year’s $25 million budget. The budget sets the town tax rate at 22 cents per $100 of assessed value, this would be in addition to the $1 per $100 set by Fairfax County. Although town residents will pay more in taxes this year than they did last year, the increase will be due to the county tax rate.

In other business, the council approved continuing to use Inova Health Systems for emergency medical treatment for town employees and approved continuing to use Siemens ICN for telecommunications maintenance.

The council also approved a measure that formally incorporates changes in the state’s motor vehicle law into the town’s code, and authorized the mayor to send a letter requesting a local public hearing about the proposed U.S. military base realignments.