A referendum to decide whether Hawke's Bay people want their councils to merge is now unlikely to go ahead before the next election in 2013.
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule prompted the amalgamation debate in 2009, when he pledged the current term would be his last, predicting it would be the final one before a council amalgamation.
This week he said the time to hold a referendum on the issue had run out and he would decide in December whether he would stand again at next year's election in order to continue the campaign to form one council.
"We are out of time for the referendum unless the Government steps in and extends the time for the next election by a year or so," Mr Yule said.
"I will be making a decision at the end of the year about my future."
An independent study headed by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, released this week, suggested one mayor for the Wellington region with 10 councillors and six "local council areas". Councillors could sit for a four-year term, instead of the current three, but would be restricted to a maximum of three terms.
Mr Yule said the plan was similar to the one he had proposed for Hawke's Bay in 2009, which included 15 councillors, and community boards or "community councils" for each of the areas currently served by councils.
"The Wellington model really suggests a two-tier system for governance, a regional council with more powers and the councils underneath to remain to work locally, which is almost identical to the one I suggested a couple of years ago."
Mr Yule was not convinced of the restrictions on the maximum number of terms for a councillor, as suggested for Wellington by Sir Geoffrey's report.
"Some of the most successful councillors have been around the table for a long time but one might argue they should stand down to give someone else a chance."
Mr Yule said if he decided not to contest the mayoral position next year there were a number of other options he would pursue.
One of them would include continuing to work as president of Local Government New Zealand for the remaining two years of his term.
He would not say whether he would stand as an independent candidate at the next general election in 2014.