When a politician wants to dress up a course of action for the voter, a common tool is to offer spectacular cost savings as a sweetener. Everyone tends to pay attention.
The Joint Charter Commission and its newly announced political arm are running around Lewiston-Auburn talking projected cost savings of some $2.5 to $4 million annually. The group opposing the merger is saying “Not so fast.”
In the unlikely event that voters from each city approve merging, two years after that vote 10 councilors and one voting mayor will be charged with the task of enacting a combined city budget. The Joint Charter Commission will not be enacting that budget, or any budget thereafter.
No one, even members of the JCC, knows who will be sitting on the council or in the mayor’s seat. Will there be tax-and-spenders elected? Will there be hard-nosed conservatives? Only time will tell.
One fact of political science is that government rarely shrinks in size. Budgets go up and up. Money saved here is spent there, because there is a never-ending cavalcade of “needs.”
People who are tempted to vote for a merger because they like the sound of a cash register ringing up savings, might be buying a big box of “vapor ware” that may, or may not, ever materialize.
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, especially when dealing with two cities with thousands of citizens who have very urgent needs.
Bob Stone, Auburn