Building inspections, IT systems and a regional call centre could be among the activities delivered to the region via a shared services system to be set up between Hawke's Bay's four councils.
Road maintenance and urban water services are also being explored under a shared arrangement among the Wairoa, Napier, Hastings, Central Hawke's Bay and Hawke's Bay regional councils.
The chief executives of each council wanted to have a council-controlled organisation set up to run the shared services which was defined as "where one council or more together performs the services for the others".
Work on setting up the initiative was reviewed at the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's meeting on Wednesday.
The council's external relations manager Liz Lambert said building control was one area councils could offer together.
"I don't want to pre-empt any decision, but it could be that one council is the lead agency for providing that service, co-ordinating things like fees, the information required for consents, the forms, providing the same customer service throughout the region."
The council's chief executive Andrew Newman said there were already councils working on building control services for other councils in the region.
"That interaction is quite sensible. If there was a paper that said there needs to be one authority [for building] then that needs definition through incorporation, it will need shareholder approval and will need to come back to each council."
Councillor Neil Kirton said there wasn't enough detail in the report handed to the council this week to show what the functions of the new organisation would be.
"It is very vague," Mr Kirton said. "Are we handing over everything to this group to undertake as they see fit? It is proving elusive to nail down what is being attempted here."
Mr Newman said it was clear councillors wanted more clarity around the purpose and function of the new organisation.
Councillor Tim Gilbertson said there was a similar proposal to share services between councils in 2001 but it was a "spectacular failure" because no one wanted to support it.
"This is going to be set up and controlled by chief executives and politicians, the people who made very little progress of it 11 years ago, which actually propels us in the direction of amalgamation as the only solution."
Mr Dick disagreed and said the proposal could work and was desperately needed in areas such as urban planning across the region and the economic development of Hawke's Bay
"Napier and Hastings are well advanced in creating one district plan for their areas and are advertising for a joint refuse collection," he said.
A majority of councillors voted in favour of forming a council-controlled organisation with the other councils. Directors of the organisation would meet next week.