AUBURN — City officials in Lewiston and Auburn will break new ground Monday as they hold joint budget workshops through the help of remote videoconferencing.

It will be the first time officials in either city take advantage of new laws that allow public proceedings through remote access after the Maine Legislature approved a sweeping COVID-19 bill earlier this week.

In Auburn, a joint meeting of the City Council and School Committee will focus on next year’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan and school budget.

According to Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque, roughly half of city and school officials will meet in person at Auburn Hall, while the others will be “conferenced in” via Zoom, the videoconferencing software.

Levesque said the limit of 10 “in-person participants” will be himself and a few city councilors, along with Superintendent Katy Grondin and a few members of the School Committee.

The workshop will be recorded and made available by Great Falls TV, Spectrum Channel 1301 and on the city’s YouTube channel.

Levesque said city staff will implement “Zoom conference protocols” on Monday, testing the software prior to the 5:30 p.m. workshop.

“I expect some slight hiccups doing this,” he said, referring to moderating the videoconference. “We will at least have some people present, and should have a pretty good meeting. We need to make sure the mechanics of government continue.”

He said he expects the tone of the budget workshop to be “more conservative in nature” as officials look forward to the coming year under the cloud of COVID-19.

In Lewiston, a joint workshop will be held at 6 p.m. Monday with all members participating electronically. Superintendent Todd Finn is expected to present the proposed 2020-21 school budget to the City Council.

The session will be broadcast live on the city’s YouTube channel, and according to City Clerk Kathy Montejo, members of the public with questions during the workshop will be asked to email a dedicated email address: [email protected]

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