BAY COUNTY-- Years of legal wrangling between Bay County and Tyndall Air Force Base is finally coming to an end.
Late Tuesday afternoon, an appeals court ordered the federal government to pay Bay County for underpaid water bills from Tyndall Air Force Base dating back to 2007.
According to the settlement, Bay County will get more than $750,000 in the first of two judgements in the case.
In 2007, Bay County raised water rates to all of its wholesale customers, of which Tyndall is one. Tyndall officials refused to pay the increase, claiming the base was operating as an unregulated utility and not subject to the rate increase.
In 2009, Bay County once again raised rates and, once again, Tyndall refused to pay the entire increased amount.
In 2011, the county took the federal government to court, seeking more than $850,000 in unpaid bills.
In 2013, a federal court sided with Bay County, stating Tyndall breached its contract with the county by not paying the increase.
The federal government appealed that decision and late Tuesday, an appeals court officially denied that appeal.
Bay County Commissioner, George Gainer, said he had been working on this case since the beginning and is relieved this has been resolved.
“We're just so happy to get it completed and get some closure on it because the base is so important to us and so are the people out there,” Gainer said. “And they wanted it paid and they seemed to understand exactly what we were going through and were very supportive and I'm just so glad that it's behind us now."
Once the county finalizes the bills, the total is expected to exceed a million dollars. Gainer said the county will draft a new contract with its wholesale customers which will all pay the same. He said this decision will not affect the water bills of people in Bay County.