AUBURN — A $1.3 million miscalculation last spring in the city's property tax collections will lead to a spending freeze through the end of the fiscal year.
City Manager Clinton Deschene said his staff discovered the error in the city's property tax commitment filed with the state last spring, when councilors adopted their final budget.
The amount of non-property tax revenues the city expected to receive were lower than those written on the state's paperwork.
"Those revenues were counted in excess, and they are a reduction in the total amount we commit," Deschene said. "We know how much we needed. Then we tell the state how much we are getting in revenue, and the rest is made up in property taxes."
As a result, Deschene said the city collected about $39.5 million in property taxes when it should have collected $40.3.
Deschene said the current numbers are preliminary. The city hired an auditor to review the city's financial documents when the mistake was discovered on Thursday.
As a result, Deschene enacted a spending and hiring freeze through June, which is the end of the city's fiscal year.
"You save all the money you can between now and June 30," Deschene said. "We'll put that together with our fund balances and see where we are."
Deschene announced the error at the end of Monday's City Council meeting, after a short executive session where he told City Councilors about the mistake.
Mayor Jonathan LaBonte said he and councilors were briefed on Thursday but decided to wait to make it public.
"Clearly this error was related to a personnel error, and I believe it was appropriate for the City Council to be briefed on the actions of the city manager and the status of that before we made it public," LaBonte said.
Deschene said no employees lost their jobs because of the mistake.