The 2020 local government election could cost Gunnedah Shire Council $100,000 - "more than double" what it cost four years ago.
The council successfully ran its own elections in 2012 and 2016 at a significant saving but in 2020 will have to pay someone else to do it.
In late June, a new law came into effect that means the council must engage the NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC) or an electoral services provider to run the vote.
It comes after the council spent months looking into a new option to run its election; that work has been overridden by the changes to the Local Government Act 1993.
The council had asked the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to allow it to keep running its own elections but with the ability to outsource some parts to the NSWEC.
However, changes to the legislation mean that option is off the table.
Another financial blow is the IPART's recommendation - in a draft report released on the same day as the law change - that councils bear more of the cost of the elections. If adopted by the state government, this means the average bill would go up by more than 60 per cent.
Ratepayers would bear this increasing cost, council's corporate and community services director Colin Formann said.
"If these recommendations are accepted by the NSW government, the cost of running Gunnedah's local government election will more than double and this would need to be funded from general revenue at the cost of ratepayers," he said.
"Gunnedah Shire Council has been one of the few councils to successfully previously run their own elections ... [but] changes to regulations have already been enacted that will prevent councils from running their own elections in future, so that is no longer an option for us."
IPART will consider submissions in response to its draft report before presenting its final recommendations to the Minister for Local Government by August 30, 2019.
The council has until October 1 to decide whether to engage NSWEC or an electoral services provider and must enter into an agreement by the start of 2020.