Highland Council is cutting £2.6 million from its budget for road repairs this year, raising fears that essential maintenance will not go ahead.
Senior administration councillors have now called on members of the public to help by cutting down on their waste, assisting the local authority to reduce their landfill tax bill.
Council leader Drew Hendry said that everything which ended up in landfill stopped the council spending on roads.
The scale of the budget gap was revealed to members at the community services committee yesterday.
Director William Gilfillan said that around £800,000 of savings had been identified already, leaving a gap of £1.9million.
He said that he had already removed the required amount from the road maintenance budget.
He said: “I know we have this problem now and, if I waited to flag it up to you later in the year, it would be too late as the big spend on road maintenance would be well underway and we would be in a similar position to last year – me having to put a halt to a range of activity to balance the books.”
However he said that the impact would be mitigated by £1.25million from the “roads innovation fund” which is aimed at improving repair methods.
Another £500,000 has been provided from an underspend in the salt budget following the mild winter.
The council’s leader, Councillor Drew Hendry, and deputy leader, Councillors David Alston both called for the public to take steps to prevent waste going to landfill.
The local authority had a £400,000 overspend on landfill tax last year and faces a pressure of £429,000 in the same area this year.
And Mr Hendry said: “Everything which goes into that hole in the ground stops us from fixing holes in the ground elsewhere.”
Meanwhile there were also calls for further explanation of why money for repairing potholes and clearing drainage was held back from the budget as a contingency.
A total of £600,000 was held back to balance the books in 2013/14 – even though councillors previously agreed to give £1million from a separate development fund towards road repairs.
Councillors also heard yesterday that officials could not say what the £1million was used for.
Councillor Andrew Baxter, Fort William and Ardnamurchan, said he was “affronted” by the situation.
He said: “It is difficult to accept that a decision made by officers is effectively overturning a decision made by every councillor in these chamber at the budget meeting last year.”