An influential organisation representing the Bay's biggest developers and commercial land owners has thrown its weight behind the formation of a single council for the Western Bay.
The Bay of Plenty branch of the New Zealand Property Council saw merit in a simple merger of the Tauranga and Western Bay District councils, with community boards sitting under the new council to reflect the different communities of interest.
Chairman Andrew Collins said members supported amalgamation even though there was no clear evidence of cost savings.
The branch committee felt that going the extra step and rolling in the functions of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council would be more complex politically.
"We are not averse to that but there are a lot of complications. It could make it more difficult to introduce in the short term," Mr Collins said.
The committee favoured taking a supporting role in the initiatives under way by both the joint councils and a high-profile private group pushing for the merger.
Mr Collins said a lot of Tauranga's urban growth areas straddled the boundaries of the two councils and one option that could serve as a transitional step if the community lacked the appetite for amalgamation was to alter the boundaries so that all growth areas were within city boundaries.
"Feedback [from members] reflects a mood for change."
He said the Western Bay District Council should not see it as a takeover.
The branch saw a degree of consistency between the two councils in terms of debt per ratepayer, with unconfirmed figures showing Tauranga's debt was about $9900 per ratepayer and the Western Bay's about $8700.
The average rate, without including Tauranga's water charges into the equation, was about $2200 for Tauranga and $3200 for the Western Bay.