The chairman of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) Dr Peter Boxall says there will be no interference; nor has there been advice from the state government to recommend council mergers.
"Our job is to deem councils either fit or not fit," he said.
"We have no riding instructions from the state government on mergers or a target amount of councils."
The independent review into local government and a treasury corp investigation recommended Wellington merge with the Dubbo and Narromine councils in the longer term.
Dr Boxall said councils faced with mergers would have to sell their case. He was in Dubbo to chair a forum attended by councils and the community from many areas including Blayney, Walgett and Temora.
Dr Boxall said he wanted to listen to community views about IPART's Methodology for Assessment of Council Fit for the Future Proposals Consultation Paper.
"We want the process to be transparent so councils are aware what they need to do and can consult with their communities accordingly," Dr Boxall said.
Dr Boxall said it is up to each council to determine the best way forward to address their specific needs and challenges.
The chairman said the recommendations of IPART's report would be handed to the state government.
"The state government will decide on what councils are fit or not. It's a political decision then" he told mostly councillors and general managers.
Local Government NSW president Keith Rhoades said the state government was showing its true colours.
He said the local government minister would not support a motion opposing amalgamation of councils.
The admission came during a debate on a motion by Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, that "this house opposes the amalgamation of councils that are financially sustainable and have the support of their communities".
"That debate was crunch time, and Local Government Minister Paul Toole stood on the floor of the Parliament and stated unequivocally that the government would not support a motion opposing the forced amalgamation of councils," Cr Rhoades said.
"It really does suggest that the whole Fit for the Future process is simply tick-a-box, with the government firmly committed to diluting local democratic representation for purely ideological reasons."
MP Alex Greenwich described the Fit for the Future program as "a farce, so the government can claim it consulted and assessed".
"It was instructive to see the arguments trotted out against the motion, which included claims that amalgamations would "drive down rates", that "bigger is better", and that forced amalgamation is "a dead-set non-issue" for our communities." Cr Rhoades said.
"I can assure the community and the government this is not the case: local government welcomes reform that genuinely improves outcomes for residents and ratepayers.
"What the sector does not support is amalgamations being forced on councils who are able to show they are financially sustainable, and whose communities have stated clearly that they wish to continue to have grass roots representation via stand-alone councils."
An advancement association local from the Cabonne Council area Marg Bollinger said she was concerned if her council couldn't fit the criteria. Cabonne wants to be independent and not join Orange.
Dr Boxall said if Cabonne Council wanted to remain independent they would listen,
"This is a chance for Cabonne to mount a case. We will assess the case for stand alone"
But it appears IPART will be more clinical about the process it says data will tell the story of whether councils can survive in the long term.
Many councils believed data was flawed. Changing weather conditions, cost shifting from the federal and state governments and also financial issues such as asset liability ratios don't make the data robust or real many of the council general managers told IPART.
The IPART panel said councils should attach information to their submissions which properly sell their case.
The general manager of the Walgett Council Don Ramsland said though they didn't need to submit a proposal because they were part of a far west regional organisation could it ask for stand alone status. The chairman said he was happy to assess Walgett and pass on the result to the state government.
"Councils are able to put forward proposals that do not match the recommendations of the Independent Local Government Review Panel in 2014, but would have to provide a sound argument as to why that's not the best option in their case, except in the case of far west councils that are not required to put forward a proposal for assessment," Dr Boxall said.