SABATTUS — Something didn’t add up.

Departments had held to a strict edict from selectmen to keep budgets tight. County taxes didn’t increase by much. And the school department needed only a 57 cent boost in taxes.

Except Sabattus’ tax rate went up $1.30.

After-the-fact questions have led to the discovery that Sabattus put $159,194 more than it intended into overlay, or emergency savings, in this year’s budget, accounting for half of the recent tax increase, according to the assistant town manager.

Selectmen are already saying they’ll put it toward lowering taxes next year. Meanwhile, they and other officials are fielding rumors about having sent out the wrong tax bills.

That isn’t the case, and new ones aren’t coming, Assistant Town Manager Andrew Gilmore said Wednesday.

Having raised that extra amount “is perfectly legal, it’s well within their rights to do, it’s not what selectmen intended,” he said.

Vice Chairman Ronda Fournier initially questioned the new tax rate, which moved from $12.85 to $14.15. She had missed the meeting of the tax vote when the increase was unveiled. Fournier read the minutes afterward.

“That got me thinking,” she said. “The mill rate is 0.70 higher than it’s supposed to be, there’s clearly something wrong.”

Gilmore said that sent him digging. He shared his finds with the board and about 15 residents in a presentation Tuesday night at a special workshop.

What happened, he said, in short: In writing up this year’s tax commitment, office staff relied on a detailed list of expenses for the town and a less detailed list of revenue that ultimately didn’t account for everything likely to come in, something that had been common practice in the past.

“That was the glitch that nobody noticed,” Gilmore said.

Selectmen had meant to send $33,488 into overlay. That unaccounted-for projected revenue added up to $159,194, sending $192,682 into the undesignated fund balance instead. That’s still under the allowed state cap, Gilmore said, and, because of that, now that the commitment papers have been signed, there’s no way to undo the decision.

“It clearly made sense,” Fournier said. “At the same time, it’s clearly a blessing in disguise. Our fund balance has depleted over the years.”

That extra money, Fournier and Gilmore said, will help Sabattus with cash flow.

Gilmore said towns often use overlay money for tax abatement, because it’s difficult to project how many people will ask for a tax break; for rounding out the amount of the new mill rate; and as a safety net.

“You know when you begin the year, what you anticipate for revenue isn’t going to come in at 100 percent,” he said. “The revenues are always the wild card.”

The town is bracing for potential cuts this winter to its municipal revenue sharing funds from the state; overlay money could help plug that gap.

Sabattus has purposely put as much as $200,000 into overlay in the past, in better economic times, Gilmore said.

Had this instance been caught in time, the new tax rate might have been set at $13.50, he said. That extra 65 cents amounts to $85 in annual taxes for a $130,000 home, the median home price in Sabattus.

Chairman Scott Lansley said municipal departments had worked hard to come up with a net zero budget increase this year.

“This came as very much a surprise to us,” he said. “I don’t believe we as a board would have voted to increase the overlay.”

He credited Gilmore’s work with the budget as leaving it “a lot more accurate than it ever has been, a more accurate picture of the financial health of the town.”

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