AUBURN — A formal contract with the Twin Cities’ economic development agency would put the city’s wishes in writing and make sure the city gets what it pays for, according to Mayor Jonathan LaBonte.

“The goal was to create a strong document that outlines this,” LaBonte said. “The scope of work that is in place right now is not documented. I’m interested in making sure we get the most for every investment we make and that it’s a highly effective investment.”

City Manager Clinton Deschene outlined the proposed contract that formally spells out what each city expects from the growth council. It’s been drawn up by members of the Auburn Business Development Corporation and the Lewiston Development Committee over the past few months.

Auburn councilors heard a short report and description of a proposed scope of work for the agency and are scheduled to discuss it again in November. Lewiston city councilors are scheduled to hear a similar report during their workshop meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Lewiston City Hall.

Auburn councilors approved a city budget in June that included funding for the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council, with the understanding that Auburn would delete that funding entirely if the organization is not restructured within five months. The group has been meeting since working on the contract.

Deschene said the proposed contract spells out the responsibilities for the growth council. They include developing economic strategies, coordinating effort between the two cities and other groups, promoting the area, attracting and retaining local businesses, managing a loan portfolio for local businesses and administration.

Under the proposed contract, both cities would agree to fund $189,388 for the growth council services, but those dollars would be specifically earmarked toward specific tasks. For example, each city would agree to pay $10,917 per year for developing a strategy, $44,211 for downtown community development and $29,936 for attracting and developing new business.

The growth council would also work to promote the area as a hub for transportation, logistics and industry — aimed primarily at the Twin Cities’ industrial parks — and focus on community development in the downtown areas.

But some councilors said they had problems with that. Councilor Robert Hayes objected to having the growth council be tasked with monitoring downtown design, zoning, parking and other regulatory issues.

“I really got tripped up on a lot of the points on this page,” Hayes said, reading from the draft contract.

He said he had problems with parts of the plan that had the growth council coordinating special events.

“To me, that should not be under the growth council,” Hayes said. “And then down below, I think the growth council should participate in downtown planning but lead it? Certainly not. Under that, evaluate downtown zoning and regulatory environments? No.”

Monday’s review was the first of several. Councilors are scheduled to review it again, and they could vote on a version of the contract in November.

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