Wellington City Council's chief executive, Garry Poole, has been told to find more than $1 million in savings within the council.
On Friday, councillors passed a last-minute motion put forward by the mayor to find savings in the next month.
A councillor who was against the proposal, Simon Marsh, says finding savings in a such a short period could lead to staff cuts, with the equivalent of 20 jobs on the line.
But the mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, says job cuts are not the council's preference. She says her focus would be on areas such as discretionary spending on meals, travel or consultancy.
Pool feasibility study a non-starter
The council has been deciding what projects it can and cannot afford as part of its draft annual plan.
One that has already been voted down is a $600,000 feasibility study into the building of an extra pool at the city's aquatic centre. Of the 800 public submissions made on the draft plan, 52% opposed the study.
The mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, says the council has made good attempts at keeping rates low. Homeowners are likely to face a rates rise of about 6%.
Ms Wade-Brown says the council's debt of about $300 million is lower than forecast.