THE news that Clackmannanshire Council is over £11m in deficit this year is chilling but not unexpected news.

A gap of around 10% of the total budget is one of the worst financial positions of any council in Scotland and will result in many months of anxiety for those who may face the brunt of the cuts to come.

Last week I met with union representatives from Clackmannanshire to talk through the potential impacts on workers and services across communities. It's clear that this year the situation has reached crisis point.

Proposals to close Fishcross and Coalsnaughton Primaries must be resisted at any cost. Damaging proposals to cut subsidies to bus routes have been floated before and would impact hard on those without any other means of transport.

At a time when the Tory Government's Universal Credit system is stripping out millions from the pockets of hard pressed families, any withdrawal of funding to services like foodbanks would be a further devastating blow.

Shutting the Bowmar Leisure Centre in Alloa and reducing the hours of the high school week, thereby reducing subject choice, are further examples of the many negative options councillors now face. Even the stray dog service is facing cuts.

The reasons why the council finds itself in this position are clear. The cumulative impact of over a decade of the Council Tax freeze, constantly changing political leadership at the council and austerity being passed on from the Tory Westminster Government through Holyrood to the council has led to the situation it is now in. Core funding for services has already been cut down to the bone, there is nowhere left to go.

Recent budget deals between my own party, the Greens, and the SNP have brought extra funding into Clackmannanshire prioritising council services. The changes to the income tax rates last year proposed by my party means this year's overall Scottish budget is also healthier.

But even these changes have been unable to stem the haemorrhaging of public finance Clackmannanshire's services now face. We will once again be raising the plight of Clacks Council in the final weeks of this year's budget negotiations, but there will be no budget deal this year unless we see moves that will ultimately end this austerity for good.

As I have said on these pages before, the Scottish Government must commit to restoring the power of councils to raise the money they need to protect frontline services.

This means an end to the Council Tax and the introduction of a new fairer system of local tax. We need to see a stable funding settlement for councils, over three years, so they can plan rather than lurching from one year's budget to the next.

It also means new powers to set up a tourist tax, a tax on vacant and derelict land and a workplace car parking levy coming to councils, giving them the tools and choices about how to raise more revenue locally.

Without a commitment to deliver these changes and a new set of rules that puts the power relationship between the Scottish Government and councils on a healthier footing, I cannot see the Greens supporting the Scottish Government's budget this year.