The council announced and unanimously approved an agreement Tuesday reached with officials from the about .
Per the agreement, the Shores will pay back the money either by payment or in credit to the Yacht Club in $25,000 annual increments. The credits may be given on the Yacht Club's water bill or in relation to a lease agreement for which the club pays the city to rent 22 boat wells.
Councilman Bruce Bisballe, who chairs the finance committee, introduced the agreement Tuesday explaining it was reached after a 11-hour day with an moderator in Ann Arbor. He said the first payment will be scheduled in the coming weeks and that it would have no immediate impact upon finances.
Going forward, city officials will plan the payments into the budget, Bisballe said.
The overcharging was accidental and happened as the result of changes in employees, Bisballe said. Ultimately, the meter was being read incorrectly by a backup meter reader employee when the normally assigned employee passed away unexpectedly, Interim City Manager Mark Wollenweber confirmed Tuesday after the meeting.
The backup employee was trained on how to read the meter but was not in the pracitce of doing it on a regular basis, Wollenweber said. He began reading one extra number on the meter that should not have been included.
Patch's review of the documents showed the change happened in the reading sheet for the three-quarter inch—or “low flow”—meter shows that an extra digit appeared to be recorded starting in 2000 and ending in 2007.
The Grosse Pointe Yacht Club Board of Directors approved the agreement June 12--six days after the meeting with the moderator.
In addition to setting up a repayment schedule, the agreement also releases all claims by the Yacht Club against Grosse Pointe Shores. Bisballe said Tuesday the agreement in no way puts the city at risk or in a position of giving up asset or other rights.
Wollenweber said officials from the Yacht Club had been questioning the billing for quite some time before filing an official claim, which was in January 2010. The but through joint investigation, the overcharged amount was $400,000 total that occurred over a four year period.
Bisballe and Wollenweber both emphasized, as does a joint press release given out Tuesday after the unanimous approval, of the joint effort to investigate the problem. The agreement is also described as amicable, in the press release.
Although the claim was filed in 2010 and questions about the billing arose even earlier, the water billing dispute surfaced during the November elections to the general public.
At that time there had already been , allowing them to continue invsetigating the problem without a lawsuit being filed but still preserving the right to sue by freezing the statute of limitations.
Details about the tolling agreement and the dispute had not been openly talked about much and many residents were upset about it questioning the decision made by the .
Current council members said at the end of Tuesday's meeting they were pleased the Yacht Club agreement had been reached and highlighted the progress they've made in a relatively short amount of time.
John Hetzler of Patch contributed to this story.