Transition teams are being set up to help oversee the shrinking of Northern Ireland’s 26 councils to 11.
But Executive Minister Sammy Wilson has to decide whether the groups will be given statutory backing in the run-up to the massive change in local government in two and a half years.
The legal underpinning could allow the teams, if need be, to set local rates and make some senior appointments for the 11 amalgamated new authorities.
The transition committees are already formed on a voluntary basis, although it is understood some of them have yet to meet.
Among the many transition issues which have to be dealt with are finances, councils which are being joined together in situations where one has serious debts which the new co-joined body will have to deal with.
“Each of the committees will be scoping out the areas they have to deal with but it will also involve corporate planning, their financial systems and their estates,” a council source said today.
Environment Minister Mr Wilson, whose brief includes local government, has said the partnership groups could also work on legal and governance issues as well as human resources.