A decision on whether Wairarapa is to be governed by a single council is still some way off.
The Wairarapa Governance Review Working Party, made up of three representatives from each of the three district councils and regional councillor Gary McPhee, met in Masterton yesterday to explain their intentions.
The party was formed after the councils decided to undertake a governance review, after a report outlining the future options for governing the wider Wellington region was presented to them last year.
The councils agreed the PricewaterhouseCoopers survey did not focus on Wairarapa enough, and after public consultation, they commissioned their own report.
That report, produced by asset management specialists Morrison Low, was presented to the working party earlier this year and recommended the councils merge in some way to remain sustainable.
The four options investigated were: Keeping the status quo; a Wairarapa district council; a Wairarapa unitary authority; or a Wellington super city.
The three Wairarapa mayors reiterated yesterday that keeping the status quo was no longer an option. South Wairarapa Mayor Adrienne Staples said changes to local government legislation, which is expected to be passed in November, will make it easier for the Local Government Commission to force changes on councils. She said it was important the councils came to their own conclusion before any changes were forced on them.
"One of the biggest drivers for change now is the change in legislation by central government," Mrs Staples said.
Another factor in the governance review was the economic pressure on councils.
"It's hard to justify having three councils for the population we have over here," Mrs Staples said.
The Morrison Low report was just one opinion and Mrs Staples emphasised no decision had been made, and the group was communicating with the councils in the region.
"We actually believe this is an opportunity to think outside the square. Maybe there are some options out there that are quite different and we haven't even thought of yet," she said.
"There's still a lot of work to do and we are working toward a preferred option for Wairarapa."
The next step in the process is a Colmar Brunton telephone poll, which will survey 400 people from each district to gauge public opinion.
There will eventually be more public consultation, and a more detailed analysis of options one and two.
"We can't have our public thinking absolutely nothing is happening," Mrs Staples said.
The councils are also working with the independent review panel, which was set up by Greater Wellington Regional Council to discuss the same issue, and staff are being regularly updated with the process.
"In the short term I don't believe there will be a lot of job losses," she said.
There will also be a website set up to explain the options.
Mrs Staples said the councils were not locking the gates at the top of the hill but trying to find a way to stay sustainable.
"It's important that we are part of the bigger picture," she said.
Mrs Staples said any options that could involve Eketahuna or Pahiatua are not being investigated at this stage as they are outside the regional council's boundaries.
Carterton Mayor Ron Mark said some form of merger was essential for the council's long-term sustainability.
Masterton Mayor Garry Daniell said the commission has the authority to move the local government elections out by six months if a governance decision has not been made in time.
The mayors agreed there was little desire for a super city, especially in the rural community.