Hawaii taxpayers are on the hook for almost $200,000 for lost dentures at a hospital, missing property at a prison, potholes damaging vehicles and a school ceiling falling on a student, among dozens of other small claims over the past year.

Unlike larger claims that first go through the Department of the Attorney General and then to the Legislature, where final approval is given during public hearings, claims settled for amounts under $10,000 are quietly handled within the Department of Accounting and General Services.

The process lets the state comptroller, Douglas Murdock, write checks to settle the claims. The public has limited access to see where tax dollars are going for these claims until they are the subject of an annual report that just itemizes the expenses.

Hawaii taxpayers are paying nearly $200,000 for small claims ranging from vehicle damage due to potholes to personal property lost in public facilities.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

The most recent report, for fiscal year 2016, which ended June 30, was filed Thursday with the Legislature.

There were 535 claims and 10 lawsuits in all, requesting a total of $10.7 million. But the department’s 28-page report shows it reduced that to 165 people receiving a combined $197,057. That’s similar to prior years.

The state risk management office decides on a case-by-case basis which claims should be approved. The office has to determine if the state was negligent or not, and if so, to what degree.

Kitae Kim is receiving the maximum $10,000 to settle a Dec. 10, 2015, claim involving a student who was injured by a falling ceiling at Kapiolani Community College.

Michele Hoke gets a check for $3,250 after a patient’s dentures were lost at Maui Memorial Hospital on June 11, 2014.

Inmates are to receive thousands of dollars for claims ranging from chain saw and fire injuries to lost personal property.

Among them, Benjamin Ortiz gets $10,000 after he was injured by a chain saw while working on a land clearing project on March 12, 2013, and Michael Ortiz gets $3,500 after he was injured during a fire at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center on Nov. 18, 2011.

Residents filed dozens of claims for damages their vehicles sustained from potholes and weed whackers that sent rocks flying.

Read the full report below.

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