A possible merger between Maitland City Council and Dungog Shire Council is back on the table.
The state government has re-ignited the possibility of the amalgamation, which was quashed late last year when it instead recommended a merger between Dungog and Gloucester Shire Council.
Maitland councillors were told that the plan was again open for consideration on Wednesday, after the public consultation period closed at the end of last month.
The Mayor of Maitland, Cr Peter Blackmore, said there were still several possibilities the government needed to consider before it made its final recommendation.
They included the possibility of a merger between Gloucester and Dungog, the potential that Port Stephens could absorb the Clarence Town area, and the possibility of an amalgamation between Gloucester, Greater Taree City Council and Great Lakes Council.
"There is still a very long road ahead," Cr Blackmore said.
"There are a number of things on the table that have to be investigated.
"It is showing us that it is a very difficult thing for the government to look at proposed mergers - it's not as simple as the government thought it might have been.
"Our extreme anger [last year] was that we were not found to be fit for the future, but we are now fit for the future."
A spokesperson for Local Government Minister Paul Toole told the Mercury the proposal for a Dungog-Maitland merger had been sent to the Office of Local Government for examination as a result of the new proposal to merge Gloucester with Great Lakes and Taree.
She said public meetings would be scheduled to discuss the proposals and they would also go on public exhibition.
But the plan for Gloucester and Dungog to merge has not been dismissed.
Dungog Shire Mayor Harold Johnston said the shire wanted a decision based on evidence.
"Your head spins with all these proposals coming from all directions," he said.
The merger between Maitland and Dungog was the subject of fierce backlash last year from both councils.
Maitland was initially declared unfit for the future when measured against the government's criteria, despite an independent analysis that found the local government area would meet all necessary benchmarks.
The government has since overturned its finding and declared Maitland fit for the future.
Port Stephens Council had floated the possibility of a merger with Dungog if the state government deemed it unfit to stand alone.
But the state government instead recommended a merger between Port Stephens and Newcastle City Council.
Port Stephens councillor Geoff Dingle was furious steps weren't taken sooner.
"It confirms my opinion that Port Stephens Council failed the negotiation test last year by not undertaking any sort of high level discussion between adjoining councils and the state government," he said.
"We have been set us up for amalgamation with the Minister Paul Toole's Newcastle-choice."