Council leaders have been accused of playing “political games” to push through a budget which will mean residents pay more for fewer services.
The ruling administration group’s financial plan was approved only on the casting vote of local authority convener, Allan Wright.
The Tory and Independent-led group squeezed its proposals through after making changes to secure the support of Conservative Douglas Ross, who sits outwith the group.
It means that people in Moray will now pay 3% more on council tax, while facing increased charges for almost all services.
Funding will also be slashed on winter roads maintenance, while flood protection schemes at Hopeman and Portessie have been placed on the back burner.
Members ultimately agreed to a package of price increases and service reductions which will bring in £4.4million.
The savings will plug a £12million budget gap when coupled with £7.6million being taken from reserves.
During the debate, the administration was accused of “balancing the budget on the backs of the hardest-hit”.
And the authority’s SNP opposition group last night blasted the budget as leaving a “black hole” for the incoming administration which will form following the council elections in May.
Administration councillors began the meeting by reinforcing stark warnings about the state of the council’s coffers.
Council leader, Stewart Cree, described the “grim outlook” for public services in future financial plans.
He said: “Next year, we estimate that we will spend £7.6million more than we receive in income, just to maintain the status quo.
“Our reserves can only meet the current level of demand until September 2018, by then the council will have to reduce services significantly.”
But the SNP group accused Mr Cree of performing a “Dad’s Army ‘we’re doomed’ routine”.
Group leader, Gary Coull, said his alternative budget would net the authority an extra £1million over the next two years.
They included cutting senior staff salaries by £500,000 and handing control of leisure venues over to a third party to save £250,000.
Mr Coull added: “The administration has not taken any hard decisions, our suggestions show real leadership.
“They are lethargic and lacking, making savings here and there but with no big ideas.”
Mr Coull’s alternative budget was seconded by SNP Elgin City South member, Graham Leadbitter.
He said: “We have been putting up with a year-on-year salami slicing of frontline services, and a complete failure to take big decisions.”
Fochabers Lhanbryde councillor, Sean Morton, blasted administration proposals to trim £1.3million from the council’s health
and social care budget.
He added: “Every councillor has forced older and disabled people to pay more, the budget is being balanced on the backs of those hardest hit.”
Tory councillor, Douglas Ross, dismissed the SNP’s plan to cut wages as “unachievable” and refused to support Nationalist members.
Mr Ross pledged to back the administration’s financial plan on the proviso that funding for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau was left untouched.
Following discussion, an agreement was reached and leading councillors accepted Mr Ross’s amendment.
Both it and the SNP’s financial plan tied at 12 votes apiece, and Mr Wright cast the deciding vote in Mr Ross’s favour.
Following the meeting, Mr Coull said: “Ultimately, all the Independents on the administration and all the Tories joined together to squeeze a budget through that has no clear strategy whatsoever.
“We saw nothing but party political games today from Independents who claim to be non-political.”
Mr Cree faced down criticism of his group’s financial plan and chastised the SNP’s alternative for lacking detail.
He said: “I have made it perfectly clear that this is a council in financial distress, nobody wants to make cuts but we can only work with what we have got.”