All local council elections across NSW will be postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A sign of just how long the uncertainty around lockdowns are likely to last, NSW Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock has confirmed the postponement of 126 elections scheduled for September,
They will now be held in September 2021.
She said "the decision to postpone them has not been taken lightly but is necessary to ensure the health and safety of voters, NSW Electoral Commission staff and election candidates".
The postponement was made possible by sweeping temporary law changes passed by the NSW Government on Tuesday.
Councillors and popularly elected mayors will hold office until the rescheduled elections are held.
For Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery, this means he will have served 10 years as mayor despite only serving two terms.
HIs first term, which began in 2011, went for an extended six years - starting early due to the previous sacking of the council, and ending late due to uncertainty over council amalgamations. This term was due to be over in three years (from September 2017), but has now been pushed out to four.
"It's certainly been an interesting ride," he said.
He welcomed the decision to postpone the elections for a year, as there was "too much uncertainty" at the present time".
He said an election generally costs the city about $1 million, which will now be able to be deferred to the following year's budget and will give the council more flexibility to respond to the community's immediate needs during the pandemic.
Shellharbour mayor Marianne Saliba also welcomed the decision.
"I have no way of knowing how the next few months are going to pan out or how this role will evolve in these circumstances," she said, noting al face-to-face council services has now closed.
"It's going to be a challenge, but I will continue to do what I've always done and put my community first."
Both mayors intend to run for re-election in 2021.
Local Government NSW, the state's peak body for councils, has also welcomed the decision.
"In light of the minister's decision to delay local elections because of the COVID-19 crisis, I know all elected councillors will continue to work across political boundaries to pull together for the public good," LGNSW president Linda Scott said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Mayors and councillors are working hard to ensure good governance continues during the COVID-19 crisis and will continue to do so."
Ms Scott expects that councillors and mayors asked to serve for an additional year will understand the need to provide stability and continuity.
However, she admitted a small number of elected leaders may need to stand down.