Employee salaries, driveway regulations and funds for town vehicles raised questions during Friendship’s annual town meeting March 16.

Moderator John Black opened the meeting with an admonition to the approximately 75 residents present to speak only through him, and only when recognized.

“At the last special meeting we had things sort of got out of hand,” Black said. He said anyone causing a disturbance would be asked to leave.

Beginning with Article 9, and throughout the warrant, there were motions to amend budget lines that related to employee compensation. David Benner asked that there be no cost-of-living raises for any town workers. A policy to include a 3 percent COLA for all employees was instituted by selectmen more than five years ago, according to Selectman Wesley Lash.

Article 9, General Government, which passed after the failure of an amendment to eliminate the COLA, will increase the pay for the town clerk by $984.40, for the treasurer by $815.36, and for the deputy treasurer by $102.96 for the year. Selectmen’s stipends were not increased in the 2010 budget.

“It’s about $1,500 – a couple of dollars per taxpayer,” said James Loney.

Article 10, Protection, brought more debate, as a resident rose to object to an increase in the harbormaster’s salary, from $3,000 in 2009 to $7,000 in the 2010 budget.

“I’m actually on the Harbor Committee and we didn’t discuss it at any meeting that I was at,” said Wayne Delano.

Harbormaster Arthur “Bubba” Thompson said he based his request on the compensation other towns of similar size and activity pay, and on the time and effort he puts into the job.

An amendment to eliminate raises in Article 10 failed, and the article passed as written. A request to have the vote done by written ballot failed.

Resident Ann DeWitt said she felt the town should create a salary schedule for all positions, showing job grades and pay ranges.

“This is a hit or miss thing,” DeWitt said. “I don’t feel competent to vote, because I can’t understand what’s going on. This is a hodgepodge.”

In the debate on Article 11, Highways, Road Commissioner Kyle Martin Sr. rose to request that $3,000 be removed from his own salary. Town Clerk Joel Fearn told those present that the 2010 request was only $2,130 more than the 2009 budget for that line, and that the motion, if passed, would mean a decrease of $870 for Martin. The amendment was defeated and Article 11 passed as written.

It was noted in the discussion on Article 15, Debt Service, that this year’s payment of $29,063.74 will be the final payment for the town office building.

Article 26, to enact an ordinance regulating driveways and road entrances, generated lively debate. Selectman Earl Bachelder said he requested that the item be placed on the meeting agenda, rather than on a written ballot, because he wanted residents to understand the need for the ordinance.

“One driveway was put in this year, and they didn’t do a very good job,” he said. “Now water runs down and across the road and [the taxpayers] have to pay to fix it.”

Bachelder said that was only one example of the problems created by improperly graded or poorly sited driveways.

Richard Burns said he was concerned about the lack of an adequate appeals process in the ordinance, which appears on page 155 of the 2010 warrant. Burns gave a number of examples of existing driveways that would not have been approved under the proposed ordinance.

“I don’t see room for common sense,” he said.

Article 26 failed.

Article 30 called for the town to raise and appropriate $20,000 for a fund for replacement of town vehicles. Kendall Delano asked why the $20,000 that was already in the account was not used toward the purchase of a snowplow truck approved in the previous day’s balloting. Townspeople in Friendship voted 147-82 in favor of buying a new or used snowplow truck during the March 15 election at the town office.

Lash said the purpose of the fund was to help prevent such large expenditures from being needed in the future. The article passed with two dissenting votes.

The vote authorizes selectmen to borrow up to $150,000 for the vehicle and raises or appropriates $32,653 for the first annual payment.

Delano rose again to offer an amendment to Article 30, to authorize the selectmen to appropriate and expend up to $10,000 from unappropriated surplus for unanticipated expenses and emergencies. When Delano said he wanted to increase that amount to $100,000 he was informed that such a motion was not allowed by the rules of the meeting.

After the meeting adjourned, Delano said he meant the request as a joke, wanting to point out to the community that a truck had been purchased during the summer without the issue being properly aired before voters.

Article 30, the final item on the warrant, passed as written.

Residents were reminded that the 2010 Friendship Town Report includes a comprehensive plan survey on page 76.

John Flood announced that there is money in the ambulance fund for any resident who cannot pay for a needed ambulance run. Interested parties should contact a member of the Ambulance Committee, listed on page 83 of the 2010 warrant.

Three elected in March 15 balloting

Incumbent Selectman Earl Bachelder was re-elected in a vote of 124-58 on March 15; he won over challenger Timothy McLaughlin. Former Selectman Arthur “Bubba” Thompson received 45 write-in votes.

Victor Motyka received 185 votes in his uncontested race for assessor. Mary Genthner was elected to the school board with 201 votes.

Residents voted to approve the other articles on the ballot. They voted 175-38 to establish July 1 as the starting date for terms of newly elected school board members. They voted 144-69 to enact the Emergency Management Ordinance. They voted 168-52 to amend the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance, and 162-58 to amend the Friendship Junkyard Ordinance 2004.