Armidale ratepayers will be asked if they want to shrink the council, but a last-minute bid for a vote on a demerger from Guyra has failed.
Councillors voted last week to hold a referendum on shrinking the size of Armidale Regional Council from 11 to just 9 elected representatives.
The vote will be held at the September local government elections.
But an attempt by Councillor Dorothy Robinson to add an additional question to the referendum was shot down at the Wednesday council meeting.
Cr Robison told the meeting the elections would also be a "great opportunity to consult the community" on whether to demerge Armidale and Guyra councils.
"Look at whether a majority of people in our community would like to go forward with a demerger since there are certainly a lot of people in Guyra who are of that opinion," she said.
"If there's any way we could pursue that at the same time [as the referendum] it would solve a lot of problems and make sure we were acting in the best interests of our community."
Armidale Mayor Ian Tiley and General Manager James Roncon both said it was too late to add another question to the vote.
In a later interview with the Leader Cr Robinson said she had brought up the idea in a meeting months previously and was not aware there was a deadline.
"If it is too late and I presume it is then it's a real shame we didn't take advantage of that opportunity," she said.
"I did bring it up a couple of months ago. It seemed such a long, long time before the election at that time that I had no idea that I would be told it was all too late."
Cr Robinson said council could aim to get the referendum question on the ballot during a future state or federal election.
"There's certainly a lot of people who would prefer a demerger. And the amalgamation has caused a lot of problems, and several people in Guyra are not happy. Why don't we find out what they want? And if they want a demerger we should be bound by that decision," she said.
Armidale councillors unanimously agreed to on the wording of the referendum on Wednesday.
Ratepayers will be asked "do you support a reduction in the number of councillors for Armidale Regional Council from 11 to 9?"
If successful, the council would shrink by two at the 2024 elections.
Guyra Shire Council was amalgamated into Armidale Dumaresq Shire Council to form Armidale Regional Council in 2016 during the NSW government's Fit for the Future program. A group of Guyra residents have campaigned for years for a demerger. Armidale Regional Council was rated in the top 10 worst-performing merged councils in the state in 2020, in an independent report by LSI Consulting.
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