A port employee and union member says he is concerned about the Napier port funding decision going to a public referendum if option four is still on the table.
David Marsen told a Grey Power meeting yesterday that option four would be a killer for the region.
"If this goes to referendum, my understanding is that that option would still be on the table, which is a huge concern to me, both from a social perspective in the port and out of the port, and the ramifications of leasing out for 50 years."
The fourth option on the public consultation document is for the port to be leased, long term, which would allow Hawke's Bay Regional Council to maintain full ownership, but lose operating control.
Marsen's comments came after a speech by founder of ourportoursay.co.nz, Anna Lorck, spoke about the importance of holding a public referendum on the final decision.
She said the council had told media if the public collected signatures for 5 per cent of Hawke's Bay residents, asking for a referendum, they could hold one.
"Unfortunately they have now told us that they were confused, that they didn't have the information at hand, and they got it wrong.
"If they can't do their homework on that, how can we trust them?"
Chairman of the Regional Council Rex Graham said the issue was too important for people to potentially randomly tick a box, as they might on a referendum.
"What we really want is for you people to really immerse yourself in this information as we have."
Consultation on the funding model for the port is formally open. Consultation documents have been posted to every household in Hawke's Bay, and people can also access the information, and submit, through the Hawke's Bay Regional Council website.
There will also be drop-in session across the region, where people will have the opportunity to talk with councillors and council staff about the options.