Kiama councillors have unanimously endorsed a submission to the Independent Local Government Review Panel that reiterates the council's opposition to forced amalgamations.
Renewed speculation about potential for council mergers followed the release of the panel's discussion paper The Case for Sustainable Change, which said the Illawarra needed to review local government structures.
The speculation even prompted Kiama's Greens councillor Andrew Sloan to fund his own bumper sticker campaign to get the "no amalgamation" message across, with a petition circulating at various locations in the municipality including the council's library.
In the council's submission, general manager Michael Forsyth said "there is a need for council areas to reflect the term local".
"A very important point that should be emphasised is that the boundaries of local government should be based on communities of interest and reflect the sense of local identity and place," Mr Forsyth said.
"Kiama council has already resolved to state clearly its opposition to the forced amalgamation of Kiama council with any other councils, consistent with the view shared by approximately 90 per cent of the Kiama LGA residents," he said.
The council's submission comes as NSW Local Government Minister Don Page reaffirmed the Liberals and Nationals' policy of "no forced amalgamations", saying that he was committed to working with councils through the reform process.
Mr Page said he had been forced to restate the policy in the wake of numerous "erroneous claims and unwarranted concerns" the government was planning forced amalgamations.
He said the Independent Local Government Reform Panel chaired by Professor Graham Sansom would make its Future Directions report public next month.
"Part of the terms of reference of the panel is to take into account our 2011 policy of no forced amalgamations," Mr Page said.
"We are sticking to our policy of no forced amalgamations."
However if councils wanted to amalgamate voluntarily they should talk to the independent panel, Mr Page said.
Kiama MP Gareth Ward said he didn't know what the review panel would propose, but said "the government gets recommendations all the time ... it doesn't mean we agree with them".
Mr Ward said he was opposed to Kiama council being forced to amalgamate, but said "greater co-operation to reduce costs among regional councils should occur and amalgamations within the Sydney Basin's 42 councils should be actively pursued".