The city kissed away $1 million in potential revenue from interest earnings last year because it was slow to deposit $60 million in tax payments.

That's the finding of an audit released yesterday by City Controller Alan Butkovitz.

The $60 million worth of payments represented thousands of checks deposited more than 30 days late - in some cases, as long as 100 days.

"In addition," the audit stated, "the Controller's Office found that the Revenue Department has no formal policy on timelines for depositing tax payments and unnecessarily delays depositing payments that are not accompanied by an identifying tax account number."

Butkovitz noted the lost revenue could have been used to shore up the city police or school district budgets.

The audit, he said, was prompted by complaints from residents about late city deposits in the weeks following last year's April 15 tax-filing deadline.

They were complaints Mayor Nutter said yesterday that he, too, had heard, while he was campaigning for office.

"I've been well aware of this problem," he said, saying it amounted to bad public policy as well as poor money management. "We started working on [it] the moment we got here."

Among corrective steps, Nutter said, the city was seeking to shorten processing time to two weeks. "We are looking at upgrading significantly our equipment, and at times running additional shifts of personnel to process the checks."