The prospect of single-councillor wards for the City of Ballarat is looking more likely.
That is one of the most substantial changes - and most controversial - in a new bill aiming to reform local government.
The bill had its second reading in state parliament last week.
Currently the City of Ballarat is divided into three wards, each represented by three councillors.
Earlier this year, councillors had a rare moment of complete unity when they criticised the bill and its reforms.
Several said that one-councillor wards would encourage corruption, while concerns were also raised the proposal would limit diversity.
The genesis of the bill comes at a time when the state Labor Party has agreed to invest more energy and resources into fighting council elections, according to The Age.
There are currently two Labor Party councillors on the council in a city in which both local state MPs are from the Labor Party, and the long-standing Federal representative Catherine King is also an ALP member.
Of the four other openly politically affiliated councillors, three are from the Liberal Party - including the mayor Ben Taylor, and Crs Samantha McIntosh and Amy Johnson - while the deputy mayor Belinda Coates belongs to the Greens Party.
The other option under the bill would be for all councillors to represent the municipality as a whole rather than specific geographical areas. The Victorian Local Governance Association has suggested this would be more likely to suit rural councils with small populations.
The state government has also controversially dropped a plan to limit donations to councillors to $1,000.
Speaking in Ballarat on Friday, Premier Daniel Andrews said caps could be introduced as bill amendments when the results of an Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission investigation into Casey City Council were known.
There can be unintended consequences which can happen if you rush these thingsPremier Daniel Andrews
"There might be learning to come from that and you've also got to be very considered with these things... because there can be unintended consequences which can happen if you rush these things," he told The Courier.
The wide-ranging legislation was designed to overhaul the 1989 local government bill, which was brought in at a time when Victoria had 210 separate councils and in excess of 2,000 councillors.
There are now 79 municipalities across the state with more than 600 councillors.
In August, the City of Ballarat CEO Justine Linley queried a call to pause the legislation. She said there was a risk of being sidetracked by concerns about single-councillor wards, and that significant reform was overdue.
The bill has now gone through two readings in the State's lower house, but will still need the approval of the upper house before it becomes law.
If it passes it would have a starting date of no later than July 1, 2020. As it stands, the council elections next spring would be subject to the new laws. That means single-councillor wards would be introduced if the bill goes through unchanged.
One of the most exhaustive engagement processes of any piece of legislation in governmentGavin Jennings, MP
Some aspects of the legislation would be phased in gradually with a finishing date of December 2021.
Consultation has been under way for the Local Government Bill 2019 for several years. In a speech introducing the bill's second reading this week, MP Gavin Jennings described it as "one of the most exhaustive engagement processes of any piece of legislation in government."
HOW WOULD WARDS WORK
If the one-ward councils go ahead, it would very likely mean new ward boundaries for the municipality of Ballarat.
The wording of the legislation outlines a requirement for each ward to have approximately equal numbers of voters and that the number of voters per councillor does not vary by more than 10 per cent throughout wards.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT BILL
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