Fife households may have to endure tax hikes to mitigate swingeing Holyrood funding cuts, the council’s leader has admitted.
David Ross confirmed he is “not ruling anything out” to bring in more cash, whilst senior councillor Gavin Yates has called for council tax to be raised.
It follows Rory Mair, chief executive of council umbrella group Cosla, claiming some local authorities are considering defying the Scottish Government by ending the council tax freeze and reducing teacher numbers to save money.
Mr Ross said: “We are now in a situation where we’ll have to find another£17 million of savings as a direct consequence of the Scottish Government’s failure to address the budget gap facing councils across Scotland.
“This is on top of the £21m funding gap that we were already having to deal with next year.
“There is no doubt this will impact on our local services and jobs.
“We’re not ruling anything out of our thinking at this stage as we try to minimise that impact as far as possible,” he said.
Scottish Government figures said John Swinney’s budget last week cut Fife’s funding by £15.3m.
The Angus settlement will fall by £6.5m, Dundee’s by £11.3m and Perth and Kinross’ by £5.6m.
The Deputy First Minister threatened councils with fines if they do not maintain the freeze. Reducing teacher numbers will also bring a financial penalty.
A 3% council tax hike would offset the Government fine, and a 5-7% increase would raise revenue.
Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay councillor Gavin Yates, Fife Council’s community health spokesman, said imposing financial penalties on authorities who break such agreements would “be an attack on the poorest in our society”.
He added: “I want to see… full support from all levels of the party for increases in council tax to protect local communities struggling under the joint assault from Westminster and Holyrood.”
Councillor Ian Miller, leader of Perth and Kinross Council, said the authority “currently have no plans to increase the council tax or reduce teacher numbers next year”.
Willie Sawers, Dundee City Council’s finance spokesman, has warned no department will be protected from pain, but The Courier understands raising council tax will not be on the agenda. An Angus council spokesperson said “there are no specifics on how we will tackle” the tighter budget.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman insisted ministers have “always treated local government very fairly”.
She added: “The 2016-17 funding proposal delivers a strong but challenging financial settlement for local government which will be strengthened by improving education attainment and an additional quarter of a billion pounds investment to transform health and social care.”