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LOCKPORT – Just because you damaged your car by striking a pothole on a City of Lockport street, that doesn’t mean the city will pay your repair bill.

Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said there are rules that must be followed before the city has to pay for damage resulting from one of the thousands of holes and craters left in Lockport streets by this winter’s freezing and thawing.

“A municipality has to be on notice before we’re liable,” he said.

That means if you strike a pothole and no one has previously reported the existence of that precise pothole, the city is off the hook. So the reporting is important; there were 13 more holes listed on the Council agenda Wednesday as having been reported in the last three weeks.

“You have to have an address. You can’t just say the city is full of potholes,” City Clerk Richelle J. Pasceri said.

“There are tire stores telling people to submit their invoices to the city,” said Alderman John Lombardi III, R-1st Ward.

“The city has ample time to respond,” Pasceri said. So even if you hit an officially listed pothole, the city still may be in the clear.

Ottaviano said the city is not liable for “acts of God.” For example, it almost completely avoided liability for backed-up sewers during the June 28 flash flood.

Ottaviano said there have been discussions about whether subzero temperatures count as an act of God for insurance purposes.

There were 10 claims against the city for pothole damage listed on Wednesday’s agenda. Only time will tell if the city has to pay for any of them.

In other matters at Wednesday’s meeting, the Council hired Computel Consultants of Earlville to audit the city’s 1 percent gross receipts tax on utilities to make sure the city is collecting all it is entitled to. Computel will keep 40 percent of whatever underpayments it discovers.

The company’s hiring was pulled from the agenda a few weeks ago as the city looked unsuccessfully for a better deal.

The Council also sold a vacant lot at 352 Gooding St. to All Saints Catholic Church for $500. It is adjacent to St. Patrick’s Cemetery, operated by the parish.

The Council also set this year’s farmers’ market for the city parking lot on Walnut Street from April 1 to Nov. 30. Vendors may set up from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, after obtaining a $35 permit from the City Clerk’s Office.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com