The mayor of Wagga could soon be decided by local residents, depending on the outcome of an upcoming referendum.
When voters head to the polling booths for the council election on December 4, they will be asked whether or not they want to change how Wagga's mayor is selected.
Currently, the mayor is chosen by councillors every two years but the referendum could see this changed to a mayoral election every four years, where residents vote on which councillor will take the top spot.
IN OTHER NEWS:
The cost of a mayoral election would be about $47,000 each year which could increase as Wagga's population grows.
The change would not be put into place until the 2024 council elections.
As it stands, the popularly-elected system is used by 35 councils across NSW while councillors select the mayor in the other 89 local government areas.
Outgoing mayor Greg Conkey was elected to his position off the back of the current system and said he would not be supporting the change.
"I will be supporting the status quo as I believe the mayor should be selected by the councillors," Cr Conkey said.
"A popularly-elected mayor doesn't have to have the support of councillors and I think that's really important for them to have the majority of their fellow councillors behind them."
Cr Conkey also raised concerns with the four-year term mayors would receive under the proposed new system, which he felt would make it harder to remove an underperforming mayor.
Former mayor and retiring councillor Kerry Pascoe was also against the change, as he felt the community was not always best placed to know who would be best in the role.
"Someone could promote themselves really well and promise a lot of things they can't actually deliver but be elected mayor off the back of that talk," Cr Pascoe
"I believe councillors are better-placed to make that decision."
Griffith City Council officially adopted a popularly-elected system in 2008 and mayor John Dal Broi said he felt it was the better method.
"I've been through both systems and what I found is that when councillors decide, there is always a councillor who wants to be mayor and they will rally and try to kick you out every two years even if you're doing a good job," he said.
"With a four-year term the mayor can better plan for projects and they have a little more comfort."
Dr Lynne Bodell, president of the newly-reformed Wagga Ratepayers Association, said there were pros and cons to both systems but said she would like to see the current system remain.
"It may not be all ratepayers' thoughts but I would be leaving it in the hands of councillors because I think they're more likely to have a more harmonious council if they can decide the mayor," Dr Bodell said.
"The councillors should obviously take into account the perspective of the community but I think whoever gets the most votes from residents might not always be the best choice to be mayor."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.