LEWISTON — The results of a study to be presented Wednesday at the Dolard and Priscilla Gendron Franco Center will make a strong case for merging Lewiston and Auburn, Charter Commission Chairman Gene Geiger said. 

The study, developed over the past year, will lay out the potential cost savings of merging the two cities, and could frame the debate on the issue as it moves toward a November vote. 

The public hearing on Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. has been a long time coming for the six-member Charter Commission, which was formed in 2014 with three elected members from each community. 

The commission released the draft of the charter, as well as a document comparing it with the current Lewiston and Auburn charters in January 2016 and hired consultants CGR to help determine how combined city operations would work.

Since then, the group has been buttoning up the charter language while CGR, which specializes in government efficiency, has been prepping the study. At meetings earlier in January, the commission spent hours fine-tuning the charter’s final draft with an attorney.  

“At the end of this year, voters will decide whether Lewiston and Auburn will continue as two friendly rivals or will become one city that rivals others,” Geiger said in a press release this week. “That decision will chart our community’s future direction and impact our prospects.”


Joe Stefko, CEO of CGR, will present the study’s findings Wednesday, while the commission will roll out its proposed consolidation agreement for a transition process. 

Over the past six months, Geiger said, the commission has had four workgroups to identify consolidation options for various city services on both sides of the river.  

Once the groups settled on what they felt were the appropriate merger options in each category, CGR compiled its cost-savings analysis. 

“On Wednesday, they’ll lay out a range of savings that might come about if the two cities were to merge,” Geiger said. 

While the commission members have seen the results of the study, they’re keeping the details and financial figures under wraps until Wednesday’s meeting. 

According to Geiger, fellow commission member Chip Morrision will discuss the transition process, which, if approved, would take place in 2020. 


In 2016, the group delayed by one year a vote on the charter, which is planned for this November. Residents in both cities would have to approve the merger.

Morrison, a former Auburn city manager, said this week that he’s looking forward to the meeting.

“We’ve been working for two and a half years and it’s an important milestone,” he said of the study results. 

Throughout the lengthy process, the merger discussion has received mixed support.

Elected officials from both cities have remained neutral, but in May 2016, the Auburn City Council passed a resolve to keep city staff from helping in the process. 

Jim Howaniec of the Coalition to Oppose Lewiston-Auburn Consolidation said this week that a group of members will attend the meeting on Wednesday. He said they plan to release a 30- or 40-point position paper in response to the Charter Commission’s study results. 


“We are skeptical that there will be a cost savings from a merger,” he said in an email, adding there are many concerns from the group. “There has been no grassroots enthusiasm for a merger from the general public.”

Howaniec said the group is planning a press conference in February. 

Geiger said he knows that emotion and identity play a large role in the conversation. Following this week, he said, the commission will be open to meet with anyone in order to gain feedback and “fine-tune” the document. 

“I think we will make a strong case, but not everyone will agree with it,” he said. “In the end, the voters will decide.” 

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.