"Certainly if you got a memo saying, 'Hey, here's some alarming numbers,' you would just dig in and fix it," he said. "Or at least stay on top of it yearly — watch it and check and double-check."
Raymond hasn't explained why the Finance Department was not more vigilant, saying only that his department performs periodic audits "when resources permit and corrects erroneous credits when identified."
Under city regulations, the historic credit applies just to the value of improvements. But in some cases the state based the credit on the rising market value of the entire home.
In addition, projects costing more than $3.5 million are entitled to only a portion of the credit. Yet for some properties, the state neglected to reduce the credit properly, giving those owners a larger tax break than the law allows.
Charles has attributed the mistakes to "clerical error" and to glitches introduced three years ago when the city and state began using computerized spreadsheets to shorten processing times. Last week, Charles expressed regret for the state's errors, pledging to fix erroneous credits and compute discounts correctly in the future.
Raymond, who has acknowledged the city's role in the problematic spreadsheet endeavor, said the city would issue revised tax bills once the state corrects any erroneous credits. Starting July 1, he said, his department will assume oversight of the historic credit program and will "consistently" monitor credits.
But City Councilman James Kraft said the revelations over the past several months show that it's time for a thorough examination of Finance Department operations.
"Needless to say, this entire situation continues to get more and more distressing," Kraft said. "We've got to find out what's going on here."