Wiltshire Police is facing £1.1m black hole in next year's budget – and that's if it gets the best possible financial settlement.
And less than a month before the force and the police and crime commissioner have to inform taxpayers exactly how much council tax precept they want, no word has come from government on the central grant, which makes up half the force's budget.
The force's chief financial officer Clive Barker told Swindon and Wiltshire council representatives on the police and crime panel a three pre cent increase in the government grant, and a £12 per year increase in the Band D precept would still leave a shortfall.
"That's option A, the best scenario we have in our planning. It would bring us a budget of £118.9m, but increasing cost pressures mean we will have to spend £120m in the next financial year."
Mr Barker said commissioner Angus Macpherson was looking at measures to make the necessary saving, including cutting two management posts from crime prevention, and three support officers to the senior management team.
And the fuel budget could be cut to make the necessary saving.
The final announcement on the funding from the government is due next Thursday.
Chairman of the panel, Wiltshire councillor Richard Britton asked Mr Macpherson whether – if this office received a better than expected financial settlement – he would consider a smaller increase in council tax precept than the 5.8 per cent rise the £12 annual hike for Band D payers represents.
Mr Macpherson said: "I don't think I would do that. I have to consider Wiltshire's precept which is lower than all the other forces in the south west.
"Gloucestershire put its precept up by £30 about 12 years ago now, which put it in a very good position to have a good base for percentage increases, and we didn't do that.
"I wouldn't think about lowering the precept increase, if we get a good settlement. The money all goes towards front-line policing anyway, so I won't be declaring a dividend."
The PCC's chief executive Kieran Kilgallen told Coun Seed the senior officer team had increased by one. "We were in breach of the law by not having a deputy chief constable, so we had to appoint one."
Coun Britton asked Mr Barker whether the force reserves could be used to plug the budget gap.
Mr Barker said: "If it was up to £500,000 then I'd be relatively happy to do that.
"But if it was more, then I'd want a conversation with the PCC and Chief Constable about how that amount could be got back in the next year, and another saving that size made."
A definitive precept proposal will be put by Mr Macpherson to the police and crime panel at its next meeting on February 6 before the deadline eight days later.