Falls Church Mayor Carol DeLong privately appealed to Fairfax County officials this week not to sue the city because it has failed to pay in full its share of a new jail and courthouse the two communities both use.

"It seems very wasteful to stop the process of friendly negotiation and to substitute for it a lawsuit," DeLong said in a letter to Fairfax board Chairman John F. Herrity and other members of the county board. "Lawsuits are costly to the taxpayers, time consuming . . . and they simply generate more hard feelings."

The Falls Church City Council, she said, "wants to make every effort to resolve our differences in an amicable manner."

Members of the Fairfax board, who have complained that Falls Church is at odds with the county on a number of issues, are scheduled to vote Monday on whether to pursue their announced plans to file a lawsuit over Falls Church's failure to pay $271,000 toward the jail and courthouse it uses in Fairfax City.

"It is especially regrettable if members of the Board of Supervisors believe that the city has deliberately 'snubbed' the county, because this has never been our intent or practice," DeLong wrote.

Herrity said yesterday that he was unimpressed with DeLong's plea. He said several years of negotiations with Falls Church have been fruitless and he "will not budge a half an inch" on the lawsuit unless all the issues in dispute are settled.

DeLong expressed surprise that her letter had become public and said she wrote it because, "We wanted to state our position directly to the supervisors with little or no fanfare. It's an attempt to get things back on the negotiating track."

In addition to the construction funds owed, the Fairfax board maintains that Falls Church overcharges county residents who depend on the city for water and sewer service. The board also charges that Falls Church wastes taxpayers' dollars by insisting that the West Falls Church Metro station, located in Fairfax, not be opened until the Orange line is opened to Vienna.

"I guess it's the kind of letter I would write, too, if someone was going to sue me and I wasn't going to change my position," said Annandale supervisor Audrey Moore. "It didn't warm my heart and I don't think it changes anything."

The county began considering its suit when DeLong cast the swing vote on the Northern Virginia Transportation District Commission in favor of a plan for disbursement of state gasoline tax revenues that would cost the county $350,000 in lost revenue.