Lewiston, Auburn voters to decide whether or not cities will merge

As polls open to let voters decide on a proposal to merge the cities of Lewiston and Auburn, NEWS CENTER's Zach Blanchard talks to leaders on both sides of the issue

LEWISTON-AUBURN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – Residents in the cities of Lewiston and Auburn are expected to take to the polls Tuesday to decide whether or not the two cities will merge.

Supporters of the merger say an independent study found combining could save upwards of $4 million a year.

“There’s never been a grassroots call for a merger,” Jim Howaniac said.

Howaniac, a former mayor of Lewiston, has always opposed the merger. Opponents believe it would actually cost more money to unite the cities.

“This has been going on for a hundred years,” Howaniac said. “We work together. We’ve worked together for a better part of a century. We just don’t think we need to formally merge to become something better.”

CLICK HERE FOR A RELATED STORY ON THE MERGER'S EFFECT ON SCHOOLS

Proponents are adamant that a merger would allow the cities to become a powerful city in the state. In fact, if the merger passed, it would form the second-largest city in Maine.

“We want to save money and we want to create opportunity,” Chip Morrison said.

Morrison of Auburn, the president of the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, said the economic prosperity will allow greater opportunity for young people in the area.

Proponents have boasted the support of at least ten former mayors, but opponents said that means nothing.

“There have been ten former mayors, Howaniac said. “There are about ten more who don’t support it. “

City officials believe there will be an impressive turnout in both cities Tuesday.

“I think it’s going to be close. We have one community and two city governments,” Morrison said.

CLICK HERE TO READ NEWS CENTER'S 2017 ELECTION GUIDE

If voters pass a merger, the cities would have until 2020 to formally combine.

Polls in both cities are open until 8 p.m. NEWS CENTER will have continuing coverage throughout the day on air and online.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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