AUBURN – Lewiston and Auburn officials said it might be time to consider operating one 911 emergency center across Androscoggin County.

Members of both city councils said they could favor combining the county system with Lewiston and Auburn’s own 911 operation if it makes financial sense.

“It’s not a matter of ‘we do this better than you,'” Auburn Mayor Norm Guay said during a joint Auburn-Lewiston city councils meeting Monday. “It’s just that, all of us together, we might do it better for everyone,” he said.

Members of both councils signed a resolution urging county officials to meet and discuss ways to consolidate some services and trim budgets, including 911 operations.

Now Guay and Lewiston Mayor Larry Raymond, Lewiston Administrator Jim Bennett and Auburn City Manager Pat Finnigan will take the suggestion to Androscoggin County Commissioners.

“I think this is a bold move, and it has to start somewhere,” Guay said. “We know that years ago, there was no cooperation between Lewiston and Auburn. We do things now we could never have done before. It may be time to look at what we might do on a larger scale.”

Finnigan said it makes sense, from the cities’ point of view. The Twin Cities’ governments have managed to combine several programs themselves, from the 911 call center to the Water Pollution Control Authority and the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport.

“We are no strangers to concept,” she said. “We feel that there are opportunities that might exist, and it’s important to give it a look.”

Auburn Councilor Kelly Matzen, who serves on the Lewiston-Auburn 911 Committee, said the Twin Cities center could take over control of the emergency calls for the county. He wasn’t sure it’s a good idea, however.

“We have the physical room and we have the computer capacity to do it,” Matzen said. “But that’s one of the things we want to look at – whether or not it makes financial sense.”

Finnigan agreed.

“It’s important to remember that we can’t consolidate services just to consolidate,” she said. “It has to lead to better financial sense, and better services.”

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