LEWISTON — With a draft charter for a combined Lewiston-Auburn written, the charter commission is ready to move to the topic people care about the most — how a unified Twin Cities would actually operate.

“We are looking at who is interested to lead those discussions,” said Gene Geiger, chairman of the Lewiston Auburn Joint Charter Commission. “I doubt we will get it figured it out in one day. It’s so complex, so politically fraught with potential land mines, we need to take our time.”

Members of the commission will convene for a special meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 29, at the Geiger company’s offices, 70 Mount Hope Ave. in Lewiston.

The meeting is open to the public.

Geiger said the consultants from Rochester, N.Y.-based CGR have nearly completed a study of current operations in Lewiston and Auburn. The group visited the cities in February, interviewing residents and city officials.

Geiger said their baseline report, comparing the two cities today, should be finished by the middle of May.

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“They should have finished their analysis of all of the departments, people, costs and everything else,” Geiger said. “They then will be able to line up the similarities and differences between the two cities and we can go into the next phase, the options phase.”

Geiger said charter commissioners want to create four committees made up of local residents and employees to come up with detailed recommendations for how the combined city would operate.

One would study public safety, another would look at education, a third would look at Public Works and utilities, and a fourth would look at general city operations and administration.

“They’d listen to ideas and options regarding how it should all be run,” Geiger said.

Each committee would have up to 15 people working on it, including city employees, union officials and residents.

“They’ll come up with options and decide, if we choose to merge the two cities, this is how things would run,” Geiger said. “But before we do, we have to start figuring out what kind of people, representing what elements of the community, should be on those groups.”

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Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled to discuss forming those groups.

“If you are talking about the police, you should probably have a police chief or a police officer and probably a union rep on there,” Geiger said. “Same thing goes for the Fire Department.”

Lewiston and Auburn voters elected six commissioners — three from each city — in June 2014 to study and draft a new charter combining the two cities. The group has met twice each month discussing government options, meeting with local government representatives and writing a draft charter combining language from the Lewiston and Auburn charters and a national model charter.

The commission released the draft of the charter and a document comparing it with the current Lewiston and Auburn charters in January and hired CGR.

Voters are tentatively set to vote on the charter in November. If voters of both cities decide to merge, it would take at least a year to get the preliminary details worked out and years for the consolidation to be complete.

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