PUBLIC policy expert Professor Percy Allan says Kyogle Council is at the mercy of a State Government that wants its tourism revenue but is unwilling to loosen its purse strings.
The Sydney-based consultant, who has worked with local governments in China, India, Thailand and Indonesia, told the Local Government NSW annual conference forced amalgamation would fail.
"Last year I did some work with Kyogle council," he said.
"It has a population of about 5000 people over a very large area with over 360 wooden bridges, largely used by tourists.
"They're meant to maintain those roads and bridges but they just can't."
The only way Kyogle could meet the government's Fit for the Future criteria would be to sacrifice its tourism revenue to survive on its current government stipends.
Or to ask the people of NSW who enjoy visiting the area to contribute to the upkeep of the infrastructure they use.
"(Councils with small populations) can only survive if you close those roads and bridges… and use a cattle prod to get everyone to live in the same town," he said.
"But for some reason you can't do that in democracies - you have to let people live where they want to live."