AUBURN — For charter commissioners and their consultants, the goal is to get the best information about combining Lewiston and Auburn to the public.

That’s true whether they’re ready to send their proposed Lewiston-Auburn charter to the polls in November or after that, they said Monday night at the Auburn Public Library.

“We have not completed our work yet to present a strong case that people can decide on,” Gene Geiger, chairman of the Lewiston-Auburn Joint Charter Commission, said. “I would like present this thing in November. I would very much like to have it done, but we are not going to do it if we cannot present a clear case.”

Commission members and consultant Joe Stefko of CGR Consulting made the transition from gathering information about the two cities to figuring out options for how a combined L-A could operate.

“This is an imprecise process, but we have tried to make it as accurate — and based on fundamentally correct and current assumptions — as humanly possible,” Stefko said.

Stefko presented an overview of the 118-page baseline report on the current operations and financial overview comparing Lewiston and Auburn. The report, a detailed look at financial and staffing conditions in both cities, looks at:

• The current costs and revenues associated with services provided by both cities, including the schools;

• Debt from both cities, how much is due and when it’s due;

• Current levels of service in both cities and staffing comparisons between them; and

• The value of everything the two cities own — properties, facilities, vehicles and equipment.

The information is available via download at newlacharter.ning.com, the commission’s website.

It’s a companion to the draft charter the commission released in January. The charter describes the most basic aspects forming one city out of Lewiston and Auburn while the baseline report investigates how the cities currently operate, how much they spend and their financial situation.

“Now the process pivots,” Stefko said. “Whether you are for this, against it or somewhere in the middle, you want more information and want to make sure we have a common set of facts.”

The commission has created four work groups of at least 10 members each, covering four different aspects of municipal government: Education, Public Safety, Public Works and General Administration. Members include top administrators from both cities and a handful of employees, teachers and community members, Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald, some Lewiston city councilors and several former councilors from both cities.

Each work group will meet to review the baseline report and then come up with recommendations for how their aspect of government should operate if the merger is successful.

All of the recommendations will be compiled into a final report that shows how city costs, services and taxes might be affected by merging.

Stefko said he expects the committees to finish their work in July, with CGR’s options report released in August at a public meeting.

“When we stand before the community at that meeting later in the summer to talk about the alternatives the committee has identified, the community will have the benefit of seeing the whole range of options,” Stefko said.

Voters will eventually go to the polls to decided on the commission’s proposed charter, which was released in January. If a majority of voters in both cities agree to combine, the cities would begin organizing the new combined Lewiston-Auburn using the four committees’ reports as guidelines.

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