AUBURN — Councilors could vote Monday to give the Twin Cities’ economic agency until the end of January to come up with a plan for changes.

Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte said that councilors will have the option to delay a funding cut aimed at the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council at Monday’s regular meeting.

“There has been discussion about having a joint council subcommittee that would negotiate a contract, and that’s not what we are saying now,” LaBonte said. “We are saying, if we agree to funding, we are going to get together in the same room early in 2014 as two new city councils to have this conversation.”

A resolution in the councils’ agenda packet for Monday would bring the Twin Cities councilors and the Growth Council together for a Jan. 27 meeting.

But councilors will have the option of ending the association as well.

“If there is not a majority saying that they are willing to continue with the funding, the alternative is that the council, per their previous action, funding would be eliminated,” he said.


LaBonte said a scheduled executive session with the Growth Council before Monday’s regular meeting will be important.

“We’re waiting to see what further information from the Growth Council, hopefully by Monday,” he said. “I’m not in a position to talk about it yet.”

Last spring, Auburn passed its 2013-14 budget funding the Growth Council for the year, but with the requirement that they reorganize by the end of November. Lewiston councilors approved the Growth Council’s budget with no additional requirements.

Councilors from Lewiston and Auburn met with local economic development officials several times over the summer, drawing up a new proposal that focused on eight 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 business, managing a loan portfolio for local businesses and administration.

Under the proposed contract, both cities would agree to fund $189,388 for 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 strategy, $44,211 for downtown community development and $29,936 for attracting and developing new business.

In November, Auburn councilors said they liked some ideas but not others. Auburn councilors said they would keep a combined Lewiston-Auburn campaign for marketing regionally and nationally and would let the Growth Council continue working on business development.

But councilors said they did not want the Growth Council developing economic strategy for the two cities, coordinating Twin Cities’ economic development efforts or promoting growth around Auburn’s transportation hubs.

Lewiston councilors responded by inviting their Auburn counterparts to negotiate a new deal for economic development.

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