County supervisors are reviewing changes to a road claim policy after a Madison man argued the current policy is unfair to taxpayers. 

Shannon Lott said his son was driving on Bozeman Road in December on a dark, rainy night when all of a sudden the vehicle hit a massive pothole and punctured both right-side tires. 

Lott said the vehicle had to be towed and was inoperable, resulting in a bill of nearly $800.

He followed the county policy regarding road claims by filling out a claim form and alerting the county of the incident within seven days. The policy, however, says the county has seven days to fill the pothole once a claim is filed to no longer be liable. 

“I did follow the protocol,” he said. “The claim was denied.”

Lott said he spent a year in Baghdad, Iraq, and they do a better job of paving roads than Madison County does. 

The county did send road crews out to repair the pothole within seven days, but Lott argued the pothole should have been fixed before then. He said it was nearly three feet wide and three feet tall. 

“This hole had been there for a substantial period of time,” Lott argued. 

He said the county’s policy was “crazy” and “negligent,” especially considering Bozeman Road is a major thoroughfare. 

“It’s unacceptable,” he said. 

District 4 Supervisor David Bishop told Lott to present the issue to the board and later made a motion to pay his claim. 

“That’s not a new pothole,” he said. “That’s not the taxpayers’ fault. Those potholes have been fixed numerous times. Does that not make the county liable?”

Board Attorney Katie Bryant Snell said the defect must be discoverable by reasonable diligence. 

District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin said he was supporting payment of the claim because he could “feel” for Lott and his position having children riding on bad roads. 

“That is a great expense on you,” he said. “Even though we have a policy in place we have the authority at any time to kind of override that policy.”

District 3 Supervisor Gerald Steen also supported the claim and said the county’s policy needed to be revisited. 

Supervisors then voted unanimously to approve the claim and for the county to present alternative road claim policies.