The District government has paid Fairfax County more than $80,000 in overdue bills for water used last summer at the Lorton Correctional Complex, but remains in arrears on a $38,000 water bill, officials in the two jurisdictions said yesterday.
Vincent J. Byrne, the finance director of the Fairfax County Water Authority, and Elin Jones, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Corrections, said the city recently paid the county for water consumed at Lorton in August and September.
Byrne said the water authority received a payment of $80,716 from the District yesterday, while Jones said the city made a nearly $38,127 payment last week and a second $51,590 payment yesterday, for a total of $89,717.
Both officials said the District has pledged to pay its October bill next week. Byrne said that bill amounted to $38,127; Jones said the bill was $41,900. The November water bill is not due until the end of this month.
The Fairfax Journal disclosed the overdue bills yesterday, when it reported a letter that Fred P. Griffith, the water authority's executive director, had written to D.C. Mayor Marion Barry complaining about the "extreme" tardiness of the water bill payments.
Jones attributed the late payments to a "little glitch" in the D.C. government bureaucracy, rather than any cash crisis.
"It's not that we didn't have the money," Jones said. "It was basically a problem in the processing."
Jones added that at the start of the city's fiscal year, on Oct. 1, some bill payments are routed through additional government agencies, which may have slowed the water bill payments.
Byrne said that while "from time to time the D.C. government gets a little behind in its payment, we've never had a situation I can recall where we have this many outstanding bills."
"Once we're looking at December and we've got an outstanding bill for water service in August, then I think it's getting a little stale."
Fairfax County pumps about 60 million gallons of water a month to the city prison complex, which is on more than 3,000 acres of federally owned land in southeastern Fairfax County.
The District government, which faces a severe deficit this year and next, has had trouble in recent months making timely payments on much larger bills.