There is a ritual played out every year when local councils set their budgets, which involves councils claiming they need more money and the government claiming they don't.
And even if they do need more funding, then they should find it from savings.
As to who is right and who is wrong, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
But these are exceptional times for the public sector in general, as it recovers from the impact of the Covid pandemic and finds itself facing new challenges caused by the cost of living crisis.
Council tax payers who have recently had fairly eye-watering bills for the coming year might legitimately be confused by reports appearing to suggest that budgets set barely a few months ago are already creaking under pressure caused by the cost of living crisis.
According to a survey, councils collectively have a funding gap of £1.7bn and many are being compelled to rip up budgets they agreed to take account of new pressures, notably those caused by soaring inflation and spirally energy costs.
The obvious question is why they did not foresee these strains and stresses?
The answer is that many did but did not expect them to be so high. Many authorities have built into contracts with the private sector rises in inflation. The problem is that many did this year but at a predicted maximum of 3%, not 9%.
Take the additional costs of fuel on the rubbish collection, for example. Ashford council set its budget for waste collection, which was estimated to increase by 4.3% - £3.98m - in 2022-23 but is now expected to rise by 12.9% - creating a budget pressure of £385,000.
Meanwhile, Kent County Council has identified a range of pressure-points caused by rising energy costs.
Among them is a predicted increase of £435,000 on electricity bills for its own offices and buildings, and £667,000 for its streetlights.
Road and transport related costs account for an estimated £4.1m increase in contractors’ fees.
It is not exactly the kind of loose change you find down the back of the sofa.
As to the solution, that is tricky: the options are to give another bailout to councils - or leave them to sort it out themselves.
Of course, there is one way in which councils could cut their costs and meet the growing demand for services.
It would be a fairly radical solution and one which periodically gets under the spotlight: breaking up Kent County Council and establishing unitary authorities made up of maybe three or four councils.
The idea has been put back on the agenda by the Conservative leader of Maidstone Council, Councillor David Burton, who in in very blunt terms, has stated that the current system is not working to the advantage of the people councils serve.
Describing it as daft, he says there is no joined-up thinking, that residents are confused and reorganisation would cut costs - by having fewer chief executives.
These arguments have been had before of course. The reason they get no traction is because local councillors are perhaps understandably resistant to the idea of making themselves redundant.
When a plan was hatched by four East Kent councils to merge go to create a super District Council - not a unitary - It fell apart for precisely that reason. Turkey's do not vote Christmas.
A similar idea was mooted by county councils two years ago, with one crucial difference: the county council would operate as a ‘super-unitary’ - and there would be no second tier councils at all.
Scrapping Kent's 13 smaller councils and merging them into a larger unitary authority could generate major savings, a report says.
The County Councils Network (CCN) dossier concluded a single unitary authority in each of the 25 remaining two-tier areas - like Kent - could save around £3billion over the next five years in a "compelling" financial case for councils.
So compelling that the idea went precisely nowhere.
After some lengthy dithering, Labour has finally cleared the way for the party to select candidates to contest the next general election in key seats.
Among them is Dover, where it looks like a two-way battle between former soldier Mike Tapp and Charlotte Cornell, who fought the seat back in 2019.
While it is a seat held by Labour - over the Blair years - it is not quite as marginal as it once was; incumbent Natalie Elphicke has a fairly hefty majority of 12,278.