The Nelson and Tasman mayors are at loggerheads after a Local Government Commission report recommending a merger of the councils.
The commission has completed a six-month investigation, saying one council for the region will be financially stronger than two and provide better decision-making.
It is recommending a council with a mayor and 16 councillors, and a headquarters in Richmond, not Nelson.
It also proposes the appointment of five community boards, with decision-making powers and money to spend.
Nelson mayor Aldo Miccio, who organised petitions that led to the commission's inquiry, says after two decades of merger debate a detailed proposal can at least be carefully considered.
But Tasman mayor Richard Kempthorne says the merger plan would leave rural people without proper representation.
Mr Kempthorne believes if the scheme reaches the stage of a referendum, Tasman people will vote against it.