Some Wanganui District Council members are worried a referendum in which the public gets to pick its rates rise will result in cuts to council staff and services.
Amost half the 31,000 polling papers in Wanganui's fifth annual referendum have been returned, with a week to go.
Voters will pick their favoured rates rise of 3%, 5% or 7%.
But Councillor Rob Vinsen says the 3% option will cut more than $500,000 from the council's budget.
He says even councillors have not had the opportunity to debate where the axe will fall if the lower rise is chosen.
The referendum also asks ratepayers whether they want the council to sell pensioner flats or the gas and power retailer Energy Direct and whether they want an "H" in the name Wanganui.