Council spending went up almost 12% last year to£14.5bn, while income rose to£14.4bn, an increase of just over 8%.
Almost half of expenditure went on operating expenses, just over a third on employee costs and most of the remainder on loan charges.
On the income side,£7bn came from government grants,£2bn from fees and charges,£1.7bn from business rates and£1.5bn from council tax.
A spokesman for the executive said the figures could be explained as a 'one-year blip', as councils had received less than the expected level of income from their pension funds.
'It will be the responsibility of councils to take that into account in future years and to cut their cloth accordingly,' he said.
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities denied that councils were spending at an unreasonable rate.
'For 2003-04, council tax increased by an average of 4.4% and this related directly to an increase in expenditure of only 1%,' said a spokesperson.