This week's Councillor Column is written by Richard Trail, SNP councillor for Helensburgh and Lomond South.

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We are in uncharted territory as far as public finances, local and national, are concerned.

The usual form is for public service budgets to cascade from the top down to front line services. That procedure has been disrupted by the General Election in December.

The Scottish Government has taken the bold step of announcing its budget without the UK Chancellor delivering his autumn statement.

It may be that the previous Chancellor, Sajid Javid, whispered some reassurances in Derek Mackay’s ear before the Scottish budget announcement. That may leave Kate Forbes in a tricky situation if Rishi Sunak decides on different priorities before his big day on March 11.

READ MORE: Council's services 'under threat' as government announces Argyll and Bute funding package for 2020-21

There is a pall of uncertainty hanging over public services. The Chancellor’s budget next month will reveal a lot about the course the Johnson government intends to take.

Are they going to continue with the policy of austerity or will there be a spending bonanza? The big infrastructure projects that Boris has promised will require huge dollops of cash. Will that cash come from borrowing, increased taxes or a tightening of the squeeze on public services?

This decision will affect us all and if the funding to local authorities continues to decline, it will put in jeopardy their financial position.

READ MORE: Council predicts £500k overspend in 'exit packages' for departing staff

The council’s budget will be set next week. Officers have offered up a raft of options for making cuts to balance the budget.

The front line services at risk include school crossing patrollers, pupil support assistants and closure of public lavatories. None of these are popular with the public.

Cutting these services does not help us on achieving the vision the council has set itself, in fact quite the reverse. They would not be put up by officers for consideration except that there are precious few alternatives.

READ MORE: 'Show us you'll keep our children safe': Helensburgh parents' challenge to council over cuts

It is not all doom and gloom, though. The council’s head of finance has been able to find a way to reduce the charges on the loans which the council has taken out.

As with all things financial, this step is not easy to understand, but it has been checked out with the council’s auditors and has been passed as a legitimate and prudent change to make.

The benefits arising from this will help close the funding gap this year.

The administration will announce their budget on Thursday, February 27 and that will be their statement of priorities.

READ MORE: Catch up with all the latest Helensburgh and Lomond news headlines here