The North Wales police and crime commissioner has accused the UK government of trying to con the public over an increase of £450m in funding.
Arfon Jones said it means an effective funding freeze, as the extra money would come from increasing the police share of council tax, not from government coffers.
He claimed that inflation would mean an actual budget cut of £2.1m next year.
The Home Office pointed to the £34m the North Wales force holds in reserves.
According to the Home Office, North Wales Police's budget for the current financial year is £143m. Next year's provisional budget is £147m, an increase of £4m.
But the commissioner said much of that extra money would come from the police precept in council tax and that "many people find it difficult to find even a small amount of additional money."
Mr Jones said the remaining money would be kept by the Home Office to pay for central services like counter-terrorism, technology, armed officers and bodies such as the Independent Police Complaints Commission and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.
Mr Jones believes the force will suffer regardless.
He said: "This is the first year since 2010-11 that the government grant has not been cut and although the provisional settlement is not as bad as I feared it might be, it does not reflect that the force is now spending almost £30m per year less than if these cuts had not been imposed.
"Policing is under great pressure from new demands being placed upon it - who would have thought that the majority of crime in north Wales is now being committed online rather than on the street?"
As well as highlighting the force's financial reserves, the Home Office said its efficiency rating "requires improvement".