A Northern Ireland local council is facing financial meltdown after it was revealed that it was £75m in debt - and had no plan in place to address the crisis.
Leaked minutes of a high-level senior officers' meeting of Causeway Coast and Glens Council held just before Christmas highlighted the perilous condition of the council's finances, and said that a rates hike of 15% would be needed this year.
In the document, seen by the Belfast Telegraph, council chiefs said "next year starts with a £4.5m deficit, plus inflation... the situation is dire, there is no evident plan to redress it".
"Current deficit may well decimate services which have already been cut to the bone... we are £75m in debt, 15% on the rates is required next year to run the council.
"The issue is not being dealt with and we are facing a major financial issues next year," the minutes reported.
"Fundamentally, the financial crisis could destroy us.
"When is anyone going to tell the councillors that we are broke?" the minutes said. Independent councillor Padraig McShane said councillors were being kept in the dark about the seriousness of the situation
"This document makes clear what I have been saying since 2017," he said.
"Something is fundamentally wrong in Causeway Coast and Glens.
"Causeway Coast and Glens Council is technically bankrupt."
The Glens councillor also called for the chief executive and senior officers of the council to step aside while a full forensic audit of the financial position was conducted.
Causeway Coast and Glens Council was asked to respond to the contents of the leaked document and councillor McShane's criticisms.
In a statement, the council told the Belfast Telegraph: "A finance committee meeting was held on January 16 where elected members were updated on council's current financial position, including an initial position regarding the rates estimates.
"These discussions are ongoing and the rates will be decided next month following council approval."