Moray Council hopes to cut costs by handing control of its leisure venues to a third party operator.
But the authority has conceded it will have to slash the number of pools, libraries and community centres under its control before an outside body would be willing to take them on.
The council runs 63 leisure venues across the region, which are tipped to require £6.9million in repairs across the next five years.
Following exhaustive talks at the authority’s Elgin headquarters yesterday, councillors decided to enter into discussions with arms length organisations which could govern the estate.
But they coupled that with the proviso that it would have to offload some of the buildings at the same time – either by closing them or placing them in the hands of the community.
Forres councillor, Aaron Mclean spoke out against reducing the area’s leisure facilities prior to seeking an outside group to govern them.
He predicted that a “cat fight” would break out among elected members eager to preserve buildings in their own patches.
The leader of the authority’s SNP opposition group, Gary Coull, urged members to press on with the project.
The Keith and Cullen councillor said: “We need to work quickly to see if any experienced arms-length organisation could take on and improve our estate.”
Council convener Allan Wright voiced doubts that any outside body would choose to govern them “without a degree of rationalisation”.
And local authority leader, Stewart Cree, worried that passing on the “unsustainable” services in full could be seen as “passing the buck” for closures.
Ultimately, members agreed to work on cutting down its leisure estate while seeking a third party to operate them.