A REFERENDUM on constitutional recognition for local government this year is looking less likely with the sector's peak body getting cold feet.
The Australian Local Government Association is worried there may not be enough time to sway public opinion in time for the 2013 federal election, when a referendum would be held.
The association has been calling for constitutional recognition to ensure the legitimacy of payments from the federal government to councils such as the Roads to Recovery program, which delivers billions of dollars in assistance.
However, there has already been two failed bids to recognise direct payments in the constitution via referendums, and the association does not want to gamble on a third.
Association board member and West Tamar Mayor Barry Easther said enough time was needed to discuss the issue with the public and state governments.
"We're very aware that this will be the third time that local government has tried to change the constitution," he said.
"There's concern that next time we have to make sure it gets up."
Cr Easther said the political climate was not ideal for a referendum.
"We don't want to get a serious matter like this overrun by political fireworks," he said.
The parliamentary committee on the constitutional recognition of local government will hold a public hearing in Sydney today.
The association is expected to discuss its concerns with the timeline there.