Leeds City Council is facing a bill of nearly £750,000 this year for maintaining and securing empty buildings across the city – more than double the original forecast.
And the sum comes on top of nearly £1m the authority forked out during the last financial year on buildings it is no longer using.
Council bosses had budgeted to spend £354,000 during 2012-13 on empty schools, offices and other vacant properties owned by the authority.
But costs are soaring and councillors have been warned of a projected overspend of £380,000.
It comes as the council is desperately trying to save about £50m to help it tackle public spending cuts.
Now a senior councillor is calling for an urgent review of the council’s property portfolio, arguing that buildings no longer needed should be sold or demolished.
The council currently has 65 empty buildings, 21 of which are being ‘processed for sale’.
Coun Andrew Carter, the council’s Conservative group leader, said: “It is time to bite the bullet and make decisions over these empty properties. A hard-headed look at the portfolio is needed.
“It is no good hanging on to them and having fanciful ideas about their future use which in the current economic climate are not going to come off.
“It is one thing to have an overspend on services that directly benefit people but to have an overspend on empty bricks and mortar is quite another.
“Property prices may have dropped but it would be better to get something for the buildings rather than spend much-needed funds on maintenance and security.”
Coun Carter (Con, Calverley & Farsley) said money raised from disposing of the buildings could support other services.
He added: “Even demolition might be better. It would cost something to knock them down but at least the council would be freed from the ongoing costs.”
Coun Keith Wakefield, council leader, agreed a hard-head approach was needed over what the council kept and sold.
He said a former school building in Kippax, part of his ward, had been demolished because the costs of maintaining and securing it were not viable.
A report to the council executive board said the number of vacant properties had risen significantly over two years as reorganisation had left the authority needing fewer buildings.