Fife Conservatives have branded the council administration’s spending plans as a “timid, dishonest budget” which makes unnecessary cuts and ignores public concerns.
Local Conservative group leader Councillor Dave Dempsey said the proposals “continue the assault on frontline services” seen since the SNP and Labour came to power in the region.
“It is also dishonest because it fails to spell out what these budget cuts will mean in practice,” he said.
“For example, the £1.5 million cut to education will see some schools forced to cut the school week and pupils forced to give up subjects.
“It will also increase primary school class sizes and fewer lessons will be covered by supply teachers.
“All this ups the pressure on teachers and damages the educational experience of Fife’s children.”
He added the joint administration was also piling on cuts to already inadequate budgets for roads, open spaces and community safety.
Fife Conservatives say they will propose an alternative budget which would protect education, reverse the council’s £837,000 cut to the health and social care budget, increase help for pupils with psychological and learning difficulties and tackle issues including damaged roads, dog fouling and opening hours at recycling centres.
This could be achieved by outsourcing services, which they say will save millions.
Mr Dempsey said: “Instead of endless salami slicing, Fife Conservatives will conduct a careful and selective transfer of council services to private and third sector organisations, who can provide better value for money for the taxpayer, saving millions in the process.
“For example, 88% of care home beds provided by Fife Council are run by the private and third sectors, with each bed costing £595 per week as opposed to £954 in a council-run care home.”
He said a combination of judicious use of reserves and a 2.5% council tax rise, lower than the 3% proposed by the administration, would give the Conservatives an extra £3.898m to spend on services.
Announcing spending plans for next financial year, to be decided on Thursday, Fife Council said it had no plans to implement the Scottish Government’s controversial workplace car parking levy.
Council co-leaders, the SNP’s David Alexander and Labour’s David Ross, revealed Fifers can expect to face a 3% council tax rise roughly in line with inflation, as well as an increase in prices for school dinners, burial services and some other services.
Schools will also see the teacher supply budget hit while high school management structures will be reviewed, indicating the removal of principal teacher positions.
But proposals to cut music tuition, pupil support assistant posts and breakfast clubs have been rejected, and the level of cleaning in schools will be maintained.
Meanwhile, investment in a £400,000 year-long trial will see free lunches provided at 24 schools during holidays, in an effort to prevent hunger in poorer areas.
And £300,000 will be ploughed into addressing dangerous headstones in the region’s cemeteries.
Fife Lib Dem leader Tim Brett said the group, in a break from tradition, was not putting forward its own budget this year, despite concerns from his group about potential job losses and cuts in funding for anti-poverty work.