The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors began moving this week toward a possible increase in the county sewer rate.
The board voted to hold a public hearing on a sewer rate increase but did not set a date for the hearing nor specify how much the current rate should be increased.
The hearing is expected to be scheduled after members of the county staff report to the board their recommendations for sewer rate increases. The report is expected in three weeks. Fairfax County residents now pay 95 cents per1,000 gallons of sewer water used. The average family uses about 96,000 gallons of sewer water annually.
The board decided to hold a public hearing on a sewer service rate increase after board member Audrey Moore proposed that sewer rates be raised no more than 16 cents by Nov. 1, bringing the sewer service charge to $1.11 per 1,000 gallons of sewer water used.
This would cost an average family an additional $15.36 per year.
A recent sewer rate report commissioned by Fairfax County says unless the county gets U.S. funds to build a $21 million sewage pipeline the length of the county, sewer service rates will have to be increased to $1.51 by Nov. 1 if the county is to pay for the pipeline.
The report, produced by Alexander Potter Assoc., says that if the pipeline receives the federal funding, the sewer service rate would only have to be increased to $1.11 by Nov. 1. The county's chances for getting the funds are uncertain since the pipeline project may not be able to meet all the requirements of the Clean Water Act.
But Board of Supervisors Chairman John F.Herrity told the board that under current county policy, the county does not raise funds for sewer project construction through rate increases.
Fairfax County Executive Leonard Whorton told the board last spring that the rising cost of treatment to meet federal clean water standards would produce a $1.6 million deficit in the sewer fund this fiscal year. But uncertainty over the funding of the pipeline project, called the Difficult Run pump-down, has delayed establishment of a rate increase.
Mrs. Moore, in her proposal for the $1.11 rate increase, said the longer the rate increase is put off, the bigger it will be. The board discussed whether to establish a rate increase for only one year, or one that would span three years without having to be readjusted from year to year.
Also at Monday's meeting, the board passed a no-smoking ordinance banning smoking in many areas of the county open to the public and another ordinance that requires county land-lords to install deadbolts and peepholes in their tenants' apartmetns.
The smoking ban prohibits smoking in elevators, in stores employing eight or more people at any one time, in most areas of health care facilities, in libraries, museums and other cultural facilities receiving public funds, and in theaters.
The ban does not extend to restaurants and public schools. Smoking is permitted in the common areas of shopping mails, theater lobbies, in law-fully designated smoking areas, in offices not used by the public "in the normal course of business", in businesses and institutions during non-working hours, in tobacco shops and in-patient sleeping quarters of health care facilities expect for hospitals where patients must get written permission from attending physician to smoke.
The new tenant-landlord ordinance requires landlords who own more than five rental units to install deadbolts and peepholes in apartments of tenants who request them.
The landlords must install them within 60 days of a tenant's request, the ordinance says. Tenants are required to pay landlords for the safety equipment, but at a cost no higher than $25 for the lock and $10 for the peephole.
Before passing the ordinance, the board struck a provision that required landlords to allow tenants to pay for the deadbolts and peeholes over a period of a year or more.
The ordinance will affect many units in the county, but the majority of rental units already have the safety equipment required by the ordinance, said a spokesman for the Department of Consumer Affairs which handles landlord-tenant relations.
A similar ordinance existed in the county until 1974 when the Virginia General Assembly passed the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act which superceded the county ordinance but did not include provisions for installation of deadbolts and peepholes, the spokesman said.