URANA Shire has expressed reservations about a merger with Corowa Shire on the eve of public forums on the proposal being held.
A Urana-Corowa union had the support of both councils before the NSW Government put forward a three-way proposal with the addition of Lockhart, which remains a live option.
But Corowa Shire has subsequently put forward the Corowa-Urana alternative merger to local government minister Paul Toole.
Urana mayor Pat Bourke said the Corowa proposal submitted in mid-February blindsided his council,which would now prefer to standalone if the government ruled out the three-way merger.
“It becomes a takeover doesn't it?” he said.
“It is not by mutual agreement and could easily be seen as a takeover.
“It is certainly how you can perceive it.
“For a beneficial outcome of both shires you would like to be working together much more closely on such a big decision.”
Corowa and Urana shires will meet on Tuesday to discuss the merger ahead of public forums in the two towns on Thursday.
Corowa mayor Paul Miegel said his council's position in support of the Corowa-Urana merger had been consistent from the outset.
“We've certainly had no intention to takeover Urana Shire,” he said.
“It's a merger, but my feeling is if the two councils don't agree on this one the three-way proposal will get up.
“We want clarity about our future for our ratepayers.”
Cr Bourke has concerns about merger fatigue among ratepayers and how many will attend the Urana session at the bowling club scheduled at 2pm.
The Corowa session will be held at the golf club from 7pm.
“We've put the public through so much already,” he said.
“We've had numerous meetings about it.
“Our guess is it's going to be a forced merger, but we would rather the state government make that blunder than us.”
Cr Miegel said the minister wanted to assess the merits of the two proposals simultaneously.