CHARLOTTE, NC -- How much is your mailbox worth? How about $278?
A City of Winston-Salem worker backed into a person's mailbox and that's how much the city paid out for their claim. If it was your property, you'd want to be paid too.
The mailbox is a good everyday example of how taxpayer money is used to pay out claims. But not every city has everyday claims like the mailbox. In Charlotte, the city paid for a broken bottle of wine. WCNC looked at the pay outs, including pothole isues.
Gerr Lee still has the damaged car parts from when he slammed into a massive pothole at the Charlotte Douglass International Airport
"So that's the piece that broke off the car at the airport." His car took a hit on the road.
"I was just going over the hole and BOOM. I bumped the hole and the whole front - all the sides just came off."
After nearly two years of haggling back and forth, the city of charlotte agreed to pay Lee for the damage to his car. "So how much did you get back from the city? $2,000. and what did that cover? The parts, labor and the tow truck."
NBC charlotte discovered that the city has an entire budget for general liability payouts, and you may be shocked to find out where your tax dollars are going.
"One of the most interesting payouts we saw in the report was about a man walking along the track just like this. He was carrying a bottle of wine. he tripped and fell and broke the wine. the city says the lights out here were supposed to be turned on but they were off - and because of that - they cut him a check for $50."
And how about this one. one man said he was on a bus at the airport and left his $700 watch behind. When he called lost and found, he was told the bus driver had it. But the driver later misplaced the watch, so the city agreed to pay the man $700.
Another person was paid $105 dollars after finding his parked car was infested with ants at the airport. someone else got a $300 check because they say an officer damaged their door while knocking on it.
We totaled up the claims paid out since 2013 and the number was well over four million dollars.
No one from the City of Charlotte would go on camera to talk about the use of taxpayer money, but a spokesperson did say some of the claims fall under the "good neighbor" policy - giving them the discretion to pay, rather that risk a legal battle.
Other times the city admitted someone had been wronged and paying up was simply the right thing to do.
Most of the claims paid out over the years were for mistakes. Things like construction mishaps. for example, ruptured sewer lines during repair work.
Meanwhile, Lee says SUV is running again and he's just thankful he didn't have to spend out of pocket for a pothole he says he couldn't avoid.
2WTK asked the Cities of Greensboro and Winston-Salem for their claim payouts.
Greensboro hasn't fulfilled our request as of yet, but we have Winston-Salem's from 2014 to the middle part of this year. There's nothing crazy like the wine. But the total for 2014-today is $957,000.
The biggest payout of your taxpayer dollars is $30,000 for a utilities truck crashing into someone's house and car. Somehow the truck wasn't in gear and rolled.
And you know how authorities tell you to stay off the roads during a snow storm? A snow plow going over a speed bump ---slipped off roadway and struck a utility pole. That cost the city and you $779 dollars.