BANGOR, Maine — Ten city leaders from Bangor and Brewer met Monday morning to discuss the makeup of an advisory committee tasked with identifying ways the two communities can save funds by working together.
“The purpose is very clear — to save money,” Brewer City Councilor Jerry Goss said.
Bangor City Council Chairman Richard Stone and Brewer Deputy Mayor Joseph Ferris, who are friends, thought up the idea in early 2009. Stone sponsored a Bangor resolve creating the committee, which that council passed 7-2 on April 27, 2009.
After discussing a similar Brewer resolve several times last year and a majority of the City Council defeated the measure, the question was put to residents during local elections in November. Voters resoundingly endorsed creating the advisory committee.
After much debate, the group on Monday decided there should be a 14-member group with five people from each community as voting members, along with city managers and finance directors, who will be nonvoting members.
“I think it’s very important to have the finance directors on the committee,” Brewer City Manager Steve Bost said. “If we’re talking about municipal finances, having people with financial background is important.”
Those at the table agreed.
In addition to Bost, Ferris, Goss and Stone, Brewer City Solicitor Joel Dearborn and Councilor Larry Doughty were in the room, along with Bangor interim City Manager Bob Farrar, City Solicitor Norm Heitmann III and Bangor City Councilors Gerry Palmer and Geoffrey Gratwick.
The ideas of having former city council members from each community placed on the panel and selecting people who fall into certain categories, such as labor, business or law experts, were removed from the table during Monday’s meeting.
“I hope we have some people with some worldly experience who understand the human side of things,” not just the numbers, Stone said.
How the advisory committee members would be selected was left up to the individual city councils.
At the end of the hour-long meeting, the leaders also agreed to work on creating similar resolves to actually create the new advisory committee. The resolves are scheduled to be presented at the Feb. 8 council meeting in Bangor and the Feb. 9 council meeting in Brewer.
The local referendum that Brewer residents endorsed in November only creates the planning committee and doesn’t discuss finances. The Bangor resolve charges the committee “with identifying minimal annual collective organizational savings of $1.5 million.”
The planning group will meet again on Jan. 25.
“I think we’re heading on the right path,” Palmer said. “The devil is always in the details.”