AVOIDING amalgamation, ensuring stage one of the Shell Cove marina is completed, progressing the city hub project and potentially large rate rises are among major issues facing Shellharbour's civic leaders in 2013.
Shellharbour City Council held its first meeting of 2013 on Tuesday.
Labor Mayor Marianne Saliba said ensuring the viability of the council going forward was vital, especially in light of the ongoing Independent Local Government Review Panel process.
The panel is investigating and identifying options for governance, structural arrangements and boundary changes for local government.
The panel's third discussion paper is due in March and its final report is expected in July.
"I'm very concerned about this idea of amalgamation," Cr Saliba said.
"Particularly with the independent review, which will have a lot implications for Shellharbour.
"We're a young city, with a lot going for it.
"We want to maintain our viability and sustain our independence."
Among Cr Saliba's other goals for the year were seeing stage one of the marina and boat harbour completed, progressing the city hub project and maintaining quality of services for all residents.
"We want to continue providing appropriate services and infrastructure that meet the needs of the community," she said.
"Also, that council continue to review the provision of services to ensure we're meeting the needs of the community."
Cr Saliba believed the seven councillors were working co-operatively and productively, both among each other and with staff.
"I have to say this is the best I've seen Shellharbour City Council working in many, many years," she said.
"We engage expert staff to give us advice ... In other [local government] areas, councillors view staff as 'us and them'.
"In this case, it's staff working together [with councillors] to get great outcomes.
"We're not always going to get it right, but we're going to do our best.
"We have the confidence of the community who have elected us, and we'll continue to act in the best interests of the community."
Liberal deputy mayor Paul Rankin said he wanted to tackle waste management and further engage residents.
"I want to get back out there and do community visits," he said.
"It's turning up to shopping centres, putting up a table and just listening to what people have to say about issues affecting local residents."
Late last year, councillors voted to move forward with plans to improve the city's poor state of asset renewal and maintenance.
They will write to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, signalling their intention to apply for a Special Rates Variation from this year.
The council will seek a special variation above the 3.4 per cent rate pegging limit.
"The rate rise will be a big issue," Cr Rankin said.
"If it does go through, we want to get the best possible results for the residents."
Cr Rankin felt the council was functioning well.
"I don't see too many issues; most of us have all the same ideas of what we want to achieve," he said.
"It's just a matter of working through it.
"We can overcome those differences of opinion; we've had two different mayors and have been pretty productive under both."