Gunnedah Shire Council will be forced to choose a services provider for the 2020 local government elections without knowing how much it will cost.
Councils must engage the NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC) or the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) by October 1 - even though an IPART inquiry into the cost of running the elections has not been finalised.
IPART was due to submit that to the Minister for Local Government on August 30.
The matter will be discussed at Wednesday's council meeting.
"Until the IPART report and the government's response have been released, NSWEC will be unable to provide councils with service and costs estimates for the conduct of their elections," corporate and community services director Colin Formann wrote in the business papers.
"Traditionally, the AEC has always been more expensive in rural areas than NSWEC, therefore we recommend that council employs the services of NSWEC to administer the September 2020 ordinary election."
Mr Formann wrote that the draft report set out the likely bills for councils under the NSWEC's proposal for the 2020 elections, and compared them to the actual 2016-17 election costs.
He said the quote for Narrabri Shire Council's election costs - $129,000 - was a good starting point for forecasting Gunnedah's costs, because the towns had similar populations and demographics.
Mr Formann has recommended the Gunnedah council allocate a further $80,000 towards the elections on top of the budgeted $60,000.