This is in response to regular Sun Journal columnist Elliott Epstein’s commentary on recent Auburn City Council activity regarding the proposed merger (June 12).

Regarding the Joint Charter Commission, it is instructive to read the state law governing what a joint charter commission is actually responsible for. If one has followed the activities of the JCC, one should come to the realization that the JCC has far exceeded its legal charge of providing answers to the seven questions specified in law. These questions should have been answered months ago.

Here are the questions, taken right out of Maine Title 30-A, section 2152:

(1) Identify the names of the cities to be merged;

(2) Recommend a new name for the merged city;

(3) Determine property values in each city;

(4) Determine the indebtedness of both cities;

(5) Recommend location of the new city hall;

(6) Prepare a draft of a combined charter;

(7) Recommend a plan as to how existing debts of each city will be paid down.

That is it.

The Charter Commission should simply answer the seven questions.

The City Councils of Auburn and Lewiston will call for a public hearing in each city, followed by a vote in each city. The state law doesn’t provide for any political activity by joint charter commissions, as in trying to convince the citizens of either city that merging will be a good, or bad, plan for the future.

If one city votes the question down, the merger will not occur. If Auburn votes first and kills the scheme, it is over. We will finally put this behind us.

If both cities approve the merger, a new, combined council will the elected by the voters of the new city and the new council will be charged with designing and implementing a new merged government.

It will not be the Joint Charter Commission’s responsibility to design. Their work will be complete after answering the seven questions posed in state law.

The Joint Charter Commission is making their work far too complicated. Let’s get this vote scheduled, let the voters speak and move on. This has been dragged out long enough.

City councils enact ordinances and appropriate local budgets, merged or not. In Maine, joint charter commissions answer seven questions clearly defined under state law.

Let’s vote, once and for all.

Bob Stone, Auburn


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