Waikato Regional Council is freezing capital and discretionary spending due to a loss of $5 million in its investment fund.
The $51.5 million fund had been expected to make a profit of almost $1.7 million in the year to October.
Instead, it recorded a loss of $5 million. Chief executive Bob Laing says "difficult economic times" caused the losses.
The freeze means the purchase of an $850,000 replacement barge for river maintenance will be put on hold.
About $170,000 in grants to environmental groups and schools also won't be given.