An emergency summit is planned for Highlanders facing “extraordinary” increases in business rates.
Council leaders aim to join forces with entrepreneurs to coordinate a last-minute strategy to fend off some of the massive rate rises that take effect in April.
The Press and Journal revealed on Saturday that scores of tourism operators fear having to shed staff or close if independent valuations prove an accurate sign of the bills to come.
Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson is spearheading an attack on the Scottish Government, although ministers insist they have already acted to ensure the system is fair.
The council leader said: “The scale of extraordinary rate increases has stunned a large number of people.
“I intend to bring a motion to the council. I’m also speaking with other agencies to see if we can get a joint Highland voice with a view to achieving sensible relief.”
Mrs Davidson, who also runs a busy nursery and gardening firm, added: “It’s a disturbing scenario. There’s a mixed picture but medium-sized business, hotels and restaurants are being hit hard.
“I’m hearing of 100% rate rises and fears that people will be put out of business. I’m urging everyone to appeal their valuations.
And I’m writing to the Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, asking for at least transitional arrangements.”
The Inverness Chamber of Commerce is fully supportive.
Its chief executive Stewart Nicol said: “We feel the whole system needs reviewed. There are huge anomalies.
“We’ve got concerns about the process in Scotland with 14 different independent assessors that seem to all have their own idea. There seem to be particular issues with city centre shops in Inverness and tourism operators have been particularly hard hit.”
Mr Mackay announced a package within the Scottish Government’s 2017-18 budget aimed at reducing business rates, delivering a tax cut of £155million to help those who might be impacted by revaluation.
He said relief packages on offer would rise to a total of more than £600million.
Additionally, a small business bonus scheme will be expanded in April to lift 100,000 properties out of rates. As a result, about 50% of businesses will pay nothing.