Moray Council has taken the “bold step” of defying the Scottish Government by moving to unfreeze council tax rates.
Council leader Stewart Cree announced the plans during a meeting this morning at the local authority’s headquarters in Elgin.
The tax will increase by 18% under the proposals, rising annually from £756 to £892 on Band A properties and from £2,270 to £2,678 on Band H homes.
The levy has been frozen for nine years, under the instruction of the Scottish Government.
Moray Council now faces losing more than £1million in government funding for breaking the edict.
Council leaders the move was prompted by a reluctance to cut public services as the authority battles to plug a financial shortfall of £11.9million following last month’s government funding allocation announcement.
Mr Cree said the move was essential to help pay for schools and library services that may otherwise have to be axed following finance minister John Swinney’s budget.
He said the authority’s ruling administration group collectively came to a “creeping realisation” that upping council tax was the only way to help balance its books.
Mr Cree added: “In times like these, we have to be bold and this is a bold step.
“But this is the only alternative to having swingeing cuts across our services, like schools and libraries.
“The people of Moray have been very clear in the past that they very much want to see these services protected.”
Speculation is rife that in the wake of Moray Council’s announcement other local authorities may follow its example in unfreezing the tax.