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April 2013 Archives

Fairfax Water to provide service to Fairfax County

Fairfax Water will soon provide water utility services to residents and businesses in Fairfax County. The new service area will include the City of Fairfax, which had formerly managed its own water utilities. The deal follows an April public hearing that capped off almost a year of negotiations between the utility company and local government officials. According to involved sources, the deal with Virginia's largest water utility provider will result in lower prices for residents and less challenges for the city itself. The deal was delayed by the fact that the City of Fairfax spent time seeking alternate options from a variety of retail and wholesale sources, a process that the Mayor of Fairfax City claimed required years. The final agreement was reached after Fairfax Water made a new offer in February. The business litigation settlement stipulates numerous terms that the company needed to adhere to in order to win the service contract, including creating new jobs, offering uniform rates for consumers and taking on responsibility for existing water system facilities. 

SEC recognizes new way to communicate with investors

Residents of Virginia may have heard that the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, has established new guidelines for disclosure of business information via social media. The SEC now recognizes social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter as legitimate channels of communication. The SEC views social media sites the same way as it does corporate websites or the SEC's own Edgar site. The new rules state that corporations must make clear which social media sites will serve as official channels of disclosure. This will impact not only large corporations such as Netflix but also those involved in corporate formation, limited liability companies and business start-ups.The new disclosure rules follow a notable incident in December of 2012. Reed Hastings, the chief executive of Netflix, used his personal Facebook account to congratulate Netflix employees for more than 1 billion hours of video viewing by customers in a single month. The SEC considered this information material to investors who would not have access to the news unless they had Facebook accounts and subscribed to Mr. Hastings' posts.

Algorithm buyouts may be the next mass pipe-dream in tech

Following news of Yahoo's purchase of the news app Summly, some tech industry experts are wondering whether the sudden interest in paying big money for mathematical algorithms is such a good idea. TED speakers and authors acknowledge the fact that algorithms and similar problem-solving solutions are going to play even bigger roles than they already do, but they caution that the way businesses acquire such tools may lead to a new tech bubble. They point out that placing too much trust in specific algorithms that are deficient can lead to major financial losses, such as 2010's Flash Crash.Other tech analysts, on the other hand, point out that market bubbles are only likely when investors throw caution to the wind. They say that even though recent mergers and acquisitions like Yahoo's have similarities to the dot-com bubble, most of the companies involved in larger deals have the fiscal foundation and market footing to back them up.

Businesses in Virginia argue that competition is unfair

Virginia business owners are pushing legislators in the state to impose sales taxes on online retailers. Although some retailers, such as Target, include sales taxes that are calculated based on the consumer's location, this reflects the fact that these firms have physical presences in many locations. Other companies that engage exclusively in online retail and do not have outlets, such as eBay and Amazon, are being targeted for not charging sales tax. Amazon will start requiring online sales taxes in Virginia in 2013. Business owners claim that the lack of online sales tax is causing them to lose customers. While the U.S. Congress is reviewing the Marketplace Fairness Act in light of these concerns, many online retailers point out that pending tax legislation may simply cause other unfair burdens. In addition to ensuring that Internet retailers have to comply with thousands of separate jurisdictional tax rules across the country, they may also be subjected to audits or business litigation.

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