We are approaching a very important day for the future of Lewiston and Auburn. Tuesday, June 10, is primary Election Day and the political parties will vote to designate their nominees for state and county offices.

Also on the ballot is a slate of candidates from Auburn and Lewiston seeking six positions, three from each city, on a Charter Commission. That commission will be tasked with drafting a charter to that would bring the cities of Lewiston and Auburn together with a consolidated government.

It is important that the citizens of the two cities elect the best of those candidates to the Charter Commission.

There has been much collaboration between the two cities over a long period of time, and many studies of how city services can be delivered more efficiently and effectively to the citizens of Lewiston and Auburn.

We were privileged to have been appointed to and serve as co-chairs of the Lewiston-Auburn Commission on Joint Services from 2004-2006. The Commission was created by the mayors and city councils of both cities, and was charged with identifying areas of municipal service delivery and operations where new and enhanced cooperative or collaborative efforts would improve municipal services, and reduce costs.

Our extensive study found that cooperative efforts between the two cities have resulted in many benefits, including cost savings, (e.g. Lewiston-Auburn Railroad Company, the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council, the Auburn-Lewiston Airport, and the Lewiston-Auburn Water Pollution Control Authority, to name but a few).

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We also found that failures to cooperate in the past have made city services more expensive, and that there is enormous potential for financial and service benefits by more coordination and integration of municipal operations.

The commission identified many of the savings to the taxpayers that have been lost by the failure of the cities to accept recommendations to coordinate or integrate municipal services.

Following the work of our commission, a Citizen’s Committee began to make a series of specific concrete recommendations to integrate city services, with documented cost savings to the taxpayers. Unfortunately, those recommendations were not accepted by elected and appointed city officials.

Recognizing that we have one community with two governments, the citizens of Auburn and Lewiston have gathered more than 1,000 signatures in each city to place the issue of government consolidation on the ballot, and to let the voters decide whether the time has come for the cities to get serious about saving taxpayers’ money while improving city services.

The election on June 10 is the first step in this process. It is not to decide whether the city governments should be consolidated, but rather, to select which three citizens from each city who will serve on a charter commission that will draft a proposed charter and consolidation plan for a single city government. The citizens of Lewiston and Auburn will later have the opportunity to accept or reject the charter that the commission will propose.

Who gets to serve on the Charter Commission is very important. We urge all our fellow citizens of Auburn and Lewiston to vote on June 10.

Robert W. Clifford is a resident of Lewiston. Donna Steckino lives in Auburn.

On Tuesday, May 27, the Sun Journal will host a Charter Commission candidate forum at the Lewiston Public Library. Each of the candidates has been invited to participate. Check the Sun Journal in the coming weeks for more information about the event.


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