Lewiston, Auburn may get chance to vote on combining

LEWISTON — Twin Cities voters could settle the big question this November: Should Lewiston and Auburn be one community?

Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce President Chip Morrison said he has taken out matching petitions from the two cities that could trigger a November charter commission vote.

"I've taken them out, but I haven't started passing them yet," Morrison said. "Right now, I'm hoping to pull together a group to see if they are interested in doing that. I think they will be."

If Morrison can collect 1,000 valid signatures from each city by July 1, it will require the cities begin accepting nominations for a six-member charter commission. Voters would select that group at the polls in November.

According to state law, once elected, that group of three Lewiston residents and three Auburn residents would select a name for the combined city and the location of municipal offices, answer questions about debt, real value, tax rates and council terms, and draw up a complete charter.

That consolidation agreement would go out to a series of public meetings and second public referendum.

But Morrison said he's not at that stage yet.

"My plan is to talk to a sizable group of people who have said they are interested in letting the voters decide on this issue," Morrison said.

The two cities have talked about cooperating off and on since 1996. A 2009 study identified $2 million in savings over five years by consolidating administrative positions, police, public works equipment purchases and economic development.

Lewiston Councilor Mark Cayer brought it before a joint Lewiston-Auburn City Council meeting in May. His colleagues promised to consider the idea further at future Joint City Council meetings.

But Morrison's move might cut those talks short.

"The councils' preference was to find out how voters feel about this," Morrison said. "They said that very clearly. Well, the only way I know for sure to find out how voters feel is to ask them. I think the people of Lewiston and Auburn want to be asked. They should be involved because this is a big decision."

A combined Lewiston and Auburn would have a total estimated property valuation — for residential, commercial, industrial and other properties — of $4.26 billion. By comparison, Portland's 2012 assessed valuation is $7.4 billion. The two cities currently have roughly 59,647 residents, according to the 2010 census. Auburn has 23,055; Lewiston, 36,592.

Lewiston has $160.5 million in outstanding debt, according to the 2012 city's annual report. Auburn has $61.2 million in outstanding debt, according to its 2012 annual report.

Lewiston's municipal government has 1,172 employees according to the annual report. That includes the 828 employed by the school department, 94 police department employees, 84 public works employees and 72 fire department employees.

Auburn has 821 total employees, including 585 employed by the school department. The city has 123 public safety employees — both police and fire departments, according to the annual report — and 55 public works employees.


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Steve  Dosh's picture

Lewiston, Auburn may get chance to vote on combining

Scott , 13.06.06 20:20 ?
May ? June • 
Why wouldn't you combine your two villages . .er towns ?
Fear of re-electing a sane , qualified , intelligent and committed black mayor and possibly a muslim city council , perhaps ?
Yes [ ? ] , No [ ] , Maybe [ ]
Combine your fire , EMS - EMT , police , public works , nursing staffs and medical facilities whilst you are at it . The AMTRAK® train is coming to Auburn , L \ A citizens . Some things make sense and this is one of them . L/AX airport might sound confusing , though , unless you play lacrosse ( LAX )
Aloha from Pahoa , HI /s, Steve , former high paid city planner , national and international country advisor . Bates '78 , GWU & PWU

 's picture

Great Falls = Dumb

You would name it Lewiston-Auburn.. anything else would be completely stupid. Throwing away hundreds of years of history.. in addition to spending millions to rebrand everything. Not like I think this will ever happen anyway.

Why don't we consolidate services.. you don't need to be one City to do that.

The Falls aren't even really called Great Falls.. they're Lewiston Falls...

David  Cote's picture

A little heavy with the critique, no?

Someone suggests a name and you shoot it down with insults? You're not very forum friendly, are you? By the way, explain how it would cost "millions" for rebranding purposes.

 's picture

just an opinion.

To rename the Cities into one new name .. is dumb.. in my opinion.

Keep it Lewiston-Auburn.. otherwise.. what happens to every business in town and their stationary, signs, business cards..
Anyone talk to Google, or the thousands of other online search engines or online directories like yellow pages. How long do you think it will take for that madness to get updated. Good luck to your cousin coming over to visit and putting in Great Falls into the GPS... cause TomTom's never heard of it. plus Fire / EMS.. who gets to keep Main Street? Summer Street? You can't have two streets named the same thing in the same City.. Looks like it's time to assess every street name and which are duplicates and who will be forced to change...

Good luck applying for grants, coordinating tax returns and all other state and government forms and paperwork.

It's a disaster waiting to happen and makes no sense.

David  Cote's picture

Thought you might find this interesting...

7 Towns That Changed Their Names (And 4 That Almost Did).

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Scott Allen

filed under: top-story


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In March, the city of Topeka, Kansas, unofficially changed its name to Google for a month in an effort to promote itself as an attractive destination for the tech giant to test its new fiber-optic technology. In 1998, the capital city temporarily changed its name to ToPikachu to commemorate Pokemon's debut in the United States. But Topeka isn't the only city to play the name game to garner some publicity, of course. Here are seven other towns that changed their names and four that considered the idea.

1. Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Ten years after welcoming the first contestant—a sailor who played the role of a grocery clerk with a lollipop in his mouth—on Truth or Consequences, host Ralph Edwards promised to broadcast an episode from the first town to rename itself after his popular radio and television show. Residents of the resort town of Hot Springs, New Mexico, voted 1,294-295 to make the change in 1950, and Edwards, who later created and hosted NBC's This Is Your Life, visited Truth or Consequences every year until 1999. Edwards died in 2005, but his legacy lives on in the form of Ralph Edwards Park and a celebration in the city of 7,000 every May.

2. McGillicuddy City, North Dakota

The 250 residents of Granville, North Dakota, were more than happy to temporarily change their town's name in 1998. The $100,000 that the farming community received over the next four years from Sazerac Co., a New Orleans-based distributor of Dr. McGillicuddy's mint schnapps, helped finance a new community center. "These small towns, they don't have a lot going for them," one resident whose grandparents were among Granville's original homesteaders said. "You just take what you can get."

Granville was chosen as the winner of Sazerac's nationwide search for a snow-covered small town that could help promote the McGillicuddy brand. As part of the deal, Granville agreed to rename its bar the Shady Eye Saloon, the name of the fictional Dr. McGillicuddy's favorite watering hole. "Yeah, we took some flak from people, that this was the town that changed its name for money," another resident said. "But we're still Granville on the map." Indeed, the town's post office and schools kept the Granville name.

3. Joe, Montana

After the Chiefs acquired longtime San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana in 1993, a Kansas City radio station commemorated Joe Cool's arrival by convincing the smallest incorporated town in Montana to change its name to Joe for the duration of the football season. The residents of Ismay—a town named after two sisters, Isabelle and Maybelle—voted 21-0 in favor of the change. "It would have been 22-0, but one of our voters was out of town," town clerk Wayne Rieger said. In addition to receiving national attention, Ismay's residents were flown to Kansas City to see the Chiefs play the Bengals.

4. DISH, Texas

The two-member town council of Clark, Texas, approved a deal to rename the town DISH after EchoStar Communication Corp.'s satellite TV system in 2005. As part of the deal, DISH's 125 residents were promised free cable for a decade. Clark mayor Bill Merritt courted EchoStar after defeating Landis Clark, the man for whom the town was originally named, in the 2005 mayoral election. "We really look at this as kind of a rebirth for our community," Merritt told reporters. "We want everybody to come here." So, did they? DISH's population was 218 in 2009, according to the United States Census Bureau.

5. half.com, Oregon

In 2000, officials in Halfway, Oregon, agreed to change the town's name to half.com for one year in exchange for 20 computers and other financial considerations. "We literally put the brand on the map," said half.com vice president and marketer Mark Hughes. Shortly after the town of 300 unveiled signs promoting the Internet startup's name, eBay purchased half.com for $300 million.

6. SecretSanta.com, Idaho

Hughes helped orchestrate another match between a dot-com and an aptly named town in 2005. The Water and Sewer District in Santa, Idaho, voted to change its name to SecretSanta.com for one year and erected signs promoting the online gift exchange manager in return for at least $20,000. The town post office, which fields letters from children every Christmas, was allowed to keep its name.

7. Sleepy Hollow, New York

In 1996, the residents of North Tarrytown, New York, voted to change the town's name to Sleepy Hollow. Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was set in Tarry Town and Irving is buried in the town's cemetery.

4 Towns That Kept Their Original Names

1. Ferrysburg, Michigan

Tired of being the brunt of jokes about their town's name, officials in Ferrysburg, Michigan, proposed a name change in 1986. "When someone says, "˜I'm from Ferrysburg,' it causes chuckles," mayor Leon Stille told reporters. "Some people even refer to the mayor and council as the leading fairies. It does become an irritant." Comedian Bob Hope mocked the town's name during a 1981 visit to nearby Grand Rapids for the opening of the Gerald R. Ford Museum, saying it was the only place in America where you can be halfway between Ferrysburg and Fruitport. But residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of keeping Ferrysburg, which was named after the brothers who first mapped the area in 1857.

2. Sharer, Kentucky

Hoping to capitalize on the same sort of publicity that half.com garnered five years earlier, PokerShare.com reportedly offered the town of Sharer, Kentucky, $100,000 to change its name in 2000. Sharer officials declined. "When you talk about poker and gambling, we're not for that in our county," a Butler County official said. "It's very conservative."

3. White Settlement, Texas

In 2005, the mayor and members of the chamber of commerce of White Settlement, Texas, asked voters to approve a name change to something less controversial in an effort to lure more businesses to the town of 15,000. The proposal angered many in the town near Ft. Worth and the measure was defeated by a 9-to-1 margin. "Why don't they go ahead and change the name of the White House to the West House?" former White Settlement councilman Alan Price said. "It's all a bunch of poppycock," Wendell Sowards, 72, told the New York Times. "We don't have any racial problems; we just like our name." Some residents were so opposed to the proposal that they attempted to oust the mayor through a recall process. According to the town's website, White Settlement traces its name to the 1840s, when a community of white settlers occupied an area surrounded by several Native American villages.

4. Strasburg, Virginia

During the week leading up to Washington Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg's major league debut, news of a proposed resolution to change the name of the small Virginia town of Strasburg to Stephen Strasburg was widely circulated. While the specifics of the proposed name change varied, the town council ultimately decided against a permanent change. Rather, the town of 4,000 agreed to honor the pitcher with a single Stephen Strasburg Day should he come visit.

Read the full text here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/25021/7-towns-changed-their-names-and-4-a...
--brought to you by mental_floss!

 's picture

So all the examples were

So all the examples were either temporary, what appears to be a joke, or towns of less than 500 people.. Except for Hot Springs New Mexico that changed in 1950.. 40 years before something called the internet.

So far the backup to your argument is less than inspiring.

CMMC alone has 1500+ employees. I'll be getting into the business card / advertising biz if this happens...

David  Cote's picture

That's because I submitted the wrong link...


Anyway, you and I will agree and disagree, I'm sure.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

If you combine services

If you combine services without merging local governments there will be constant infighting about who is getting a bigger piece of the pie, not to mention that overlapping local government is wasteful.

Lastly, you don’t have to combine city names to combine governance.

Jason Theriault's picture

I disagree.

As an Auburn resident, I say why not "Auburn-Lewiston". And I'm against Great Falls as it doesn't seem identifiable with the region. The Androscoggin river defines everything about the region. It's the reason there are two cities. It's the reason the cities came into being, and reason we have our mills.

That's why I like Androscoggin.

 's picture

"As an Auburn resident, I say

"As an Auburn resident, I say why not "Auburn-Lewiston"."

Because only Auburn residents call it "Auburn-Lewiston", everyone else calls it Lewiston-Auburn. Not to mention that things like Museum L/A, Grow L/A, L/A Arts, etc... all would have to "re-brand" themselves. Let's be honest as much as Auburn residents want to be referred as Auburn-Lewiston, Lewiston-Auburn is so much easier and rolls off your tongue a lot better.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

How about re-branding to “Big

How about re-branding to “Big Sandy River”?

For those readers that not familiar with Big Sandy River, this town was the home of the legendary Hatfield and McCoys feuds.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Eric ? 21: 00 hst ?

Eric ? 21: 00 hst ? Thursday
How'z about " Ghetto , Maine ? "
That's stupid also , moronic , idiotic , uncalled for , foolish , . ...dumb down, Informal. to make or become less intellectual, simpler, or less sophisticated: ' to dumb down a textbook; American movies have dumbed down, ' lacking intelligence or good judgment; stupid; dull-witted tea party
hth ? /s , Someone who has lived with his family and has served you in Africa
Eh ' sha ' Allah, i.e., " God Willing " ( In Arabic ) in the new , 21st century Androscoggin , Maine
Your Somali - Americans citizens say " O'ja'la " . It means the same thing , " God willing ." It's just a slightly different pronunciation
It is polite and respectful to say " Ohala " to - any - Somali - American and they will simply smile back at you , much as shalom , salem , and peace all mean the same thing to us all ; Jew , Muslim , and Christian alike. ...

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Cost would be huge.

The changing of every legal documents for businesses and the histories of all occupants, for one, alone would cost millions.

They would be multiplying the problems, even if they consolidated offices.
Changing your name can be expensive and is not a task to be taken lightly.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Jer? No it wouldn't

Jer? No it wouldn't especially if you went to a paperless office ( like this , the web ) ;) /s Steve

MARK GRAVEL's picture

OMG, I agree with Jerry. I

OMG, I agree with Jerry. I need a drink!

Fact, the word is not paperless. Just keep the names for history, but create regional governance.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


Bumps.... 8>0

Steve  Dosh's picture

. . We can't change history

. . We can't change history n e way ( his - story ? ) try as we might . " All history is bunk . " -- Henry Ford , the first • hth ?

 's picture

Nope, don't do it...

Bad idea, combined efficiencies will only last until the current crop of elected officials are gone and then the expenditure increases begin again, and up go the taxes. Besides, the concept of an "efficient government" is an oxymoron. The only efficient government is a limited government; so why would we make it bigger? Why even waste the money examining such a thing?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Government does not

Government does not necessarily have to grow, just get rid of one during a combined election cycle. That said, this will be a difficult task in practice.

Steve  Dosh's picture

. . wrong again , Charles ? 

. . wrong again , Charles ?  ;)

GARY SAVARD's picture

I think the idea has merit.

I think the idea has merit. I would keep the same names but in combination, Lewiston-Auburn, L-A for short. Dover-Foxcroft did that. By doing that all the businesses that have years of branding built into names that utilize any variation of the two cities wouldn't be placed in an unfair position. Great Falls does have a nice ring to it, though.

 's picture

Combining the two cities

Combining the two cities would not save any money at all. Most likely, it would raise taxes. You think the councils don't listen to you now, wait till they are bigger and more powerful. Why the push to have this vote in an off election year? Hint, low voter turnout.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Perhaps combining governance

Perhaps combining governance will spur competition between the two halves. Each half will compete to elect officials form their side. Human nature will drive people to get out and vote.

Steve  Dosh's picture

. . Yes it would , Bob • (

. . Yes it would , Bob • ( save money )
Yes oui can ?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

If moving from two local

If moving from two local governments to one saves money, think of how much taxpayers will save if they go from two local governments to a fraction of one, or none?

Jason Theriault's picture


From the sounds of it, the only reason really not to do it is town pride. Lewiston residents love Lewiston, and Auburn residents love Auburn.

I think I would vote yes.

And I think "Androscoggin, Maine" would be an good place to live.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Isn’t Androscoggin the county

Isn’t Androscoggin the county name?

The city of Androsoggin in the county of Androsoggin?

GARY SAVARD's picture

But... The town of Oxford is

But... The town of Oxford is in Oxford County, and the town of York is in York County...Then again, the town of Knox is in Waldo County and the town of Franklin is in Hancock County. The point? There isn't one. I still prefer Lewiston-Auburn.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Mr. Theroux 20:45 Thursday

Mr. Theroux 20:45 Thursday
. . ...and here we thought. .well i guess a leopard or a bobcat , polecat , lynx , panther , tiger , mountain lion , rhino or zebra - can - change his spots or stripes •
. . Yet, the tea party of " Just Say No " has not really spoken yet , Mark Gavel ? 
Do give us you $US.02 ¢ents worth, please . Tread on us . ..
Androscoggin, Mainers ? Combine your fire , EMS - EMT , police , public works , 9.11 nursing , doctor and dentist staffs , rail & air - bus transportation systems , city governments ( one mayor and staff to pay and wrangle with in English ) , sewers and garbage disposal landfills , plows , and churches whilst you are at it
Whad'a ya say , Claire ? Yes [ ? ] , No [ ] , Maybe so ? [ ]
/s Dr. Dosh ( i voted twice already :D }
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Theroux • good read •

David  Cote's picture

I would be willing to vote "yes" as well...

And I'd like to see the name "Great Falls" considered.


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