THE City of Greater Bendigo could find itself forced to revert back to single member wards under proposed reforms to local government laws.
And it wouldn't be the only council making changes, with the state government keen to introduce a uniform electoral structure model.
All Victorian councils will comprise of single member wards if the Local Government Bill 2019 passes into law, with the exception of those for which it is deemed impractical.
An Electoral Representation Advisory Panel would identify those councils for which an unsubdivided municipality model, in which there are no wards, would be more appropriate.
The suggested electoral structure changes are among a number of aspects of the bill that have come as a surprise to some in local government.
The state government has been working with councils, communities and sector bodies on proposed reforms for several years.
But some of the changes revealed yesterday were brand new, according to Municipal Association of Victoria chief executive officer Kerry Thompson.
The state's peak body for local government was seeking to understand more about those proposals and why they had been made.
Feedback was due by July 12 - less than a month's time.
Councils have a choice of five structural models, at the moment.
The City of Greater Bendigo has three wards, each of which is represented by three councillors.
The Victorian Electoral Commission recommended the model in May 2011, back when the council consisted of nine single member wards.
There were seven councillors, each of which represented their own ward, before 2004.
Ward boundaries changed as the number and distribution of councillors were amended.
Greater Bendigo mayor Margaret O'Rourke said the council had not discussed single member wards.
It had supported preferential voting for multi-member wards and unsubdivided elections back when the bill was being drafted.
"It may be a case of back to the future, and if so future councils will have to work with these changes," Cr O'Rourke said.
"The new reforms have just been released, so we are not familiar with their detail."
She said the council was supportive in-principle of any changes that strengthened the transparency, accountability and role of councillors and made it easier for voters to participate in elections, and for potential councillors to understand their roles.
Central Goldfields Shire Council chief administrator Noel Harvey said he was concerned about the single member ward proposal.
"In a municipality like Central Goldfields it's going to be extremely difficult," he said.
Half of the shire's population is in Maryborough, while the other half is dispersed in regional areas.
Mr Harvey said figuring out ward boundaries would be challenging. He personally preferred the idea of unsubdivided councils.
Administrators were seeking a review of the shire's electoral structure.
They were also making inquiries about whether the Local Government Bill could affect the 2020 election, which would restore councillors to the shire.
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