Recent polling in Sydney and the Hunter has found that while ratepayers are generally satisfied with local government, they are not sure who is running the show.

Commissioned by the Independent Local Government Review Panel, the polling will form part of a report on the future of local government due to be delivered to state government next month.

Panel chairman Graham Sansom says a number of other key points were discovered, such as a lack of community engagement with the local council.

Mr Sansom says the data appears to show a general lack of understanding as to the role and function of local government.

"The thing that troubled us in the findings was a relatively low level of knowledge about what local government and local councils do, and the fact that a lot of people had relatively little contact with their councils, and couldn't name the mayor or a councillor in their area," he said.

Mr Sansom says the polling shows Hunter residents are prepared to pay increased council rates providing they can see the results.

He says the polling backs up other surveys conducted on similar issues.

"A number of surveys have come up with this finding, that if people are convinced that paying a bit more in their rates will make sure that services at worst don't decline and at best can improved quite significantly, then they are prepared to pay a bit more."