Cash-strapped West Somerset DC has asked parish and town councils to take over some of its services as it tries to sort out its finances.
The council, which has “virtually no reserves” according to council leader Keith Ross (Ind), is also to appeal to the Department for Communities & Local Government for additional funding and permission to increase council tax above the cap.
Councillors have been presented with a damning report by consultant and former Westminster City Council chief executive Bill Roots, which criticised “imprudent” consumption of reserves and warned that the viability of the council was in question.
Troubleshooter Mr Roots also recommended that because West Somerset was so small - with a population of 35,000 and a workforce of 100 full-time staff - it should be subject to the same lighter regulation as the Isles of Scilly and the City of London Corporation.
The report has been passed on to the Audit Commission and Cllr Ross said he hoped to have a meeting with auditors and DCLG officials “in the next few weeks”.
Whitehall’s agreement to an extraordinary council tax increase and an exemption from the Audit Commission’s standard inspection regime “would take some of the pressure off us”, said Mr Ross.
In the meantime, he said, councillors have been asked to consider other ways of saving money, such as handing some responsibilities to “some willing town and parish councils” which are in a better financial position because their tax collection is not capped.