A proposal by the NSW Independent Local Government Review Panel to give mayors more powers has been rejected by the Shellharbour City Council.
However, the issue has reignited debate over how Shellharbour residents elect their mayor, which until the last election was by popular vote by the community for a full term. Under the current method, Shellharbour's seven councillors elect the city's mayor annually.
The Local Government Review Panel is due to hand down its final report in June. In a discussion paper it has suggested expanding the roles of mayors, combining increased responsibilities and authority with more accountability.
However, in its submission to the panel, the Shellharbour council "entirely rejects this approach".
Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba said despite the council agreeing not to increase mayoral powers, she was still of the belief the mayor should be elected by the community, not councillors.
"I think the community has the right to choose who they want to represent them," Cr Saliba said. "That was taken away from Shellharbour City by the state government."
Cr Saliba said it would take a referendum for the current method to be overturned and while she would like to see a referendum on the issue, her "gut feeling" was that her fellow councillors would not endorse it.
Cr Peter Moran said he didn't think there was any great desire or push by the community to have a popularly elected mayor.
As far as giving the mayor more powers, Cr Moran said the mayor was "already first among equals".
Cr Kellie Marsh said while the "no ward" system was working well, she hadn't made her mind up on the issue of whether the mayor should be elected by a popular vote.
"I've had representation from people on both sides and the feedback I've had is split down the middle," Cr Marsh said.
The Shellharbour council's submission to the review panel will also reinforce its position that there should be no forced amalgamations.