This is part of a package of reforms arising from a study by University of Wales academics on the role, functions and potential of the councils, whose powers are similar to those of English parishes.
Researchers took an in-depth look at 17 of the councils, and concluded they provide benefits to residents which exceed their running costs.
Among 76 recommendations is a power to co-opt two members aged between 16 and 25 in an attempt to increase the interest of young residents in the councils' work.
Ms Essex said: 'I am pleased to see from this report that the vast majority of local councils actively contribute to their areas' well being.
'However, the report also outlines the constraints they face and sets out proposals for enhancing their role, should they wish to take on additional responsibilities.'
Consultation will run until 24 February and four public meetings will be held in