More than 100 Liberty residents spent Saturday morning at the annual town meeting debating parking enforcement at Marshall Shores and how much to fund the ambulance service. Voters also increased the salaries of municipal officers and decreased compensation for selectmen.

Several options were presented to address parking problems at Marshall Shores. Town officials have safety concerns about people parking along the sides of roads, reducing visibility of pedestrians and other vehicles.

The first option was to hire a parking attendant to enforce the existing ordinance. The attendant would be a municipal officer with authority to write a ticket but who would not be there seven days a week, but, rather, on days when the parking situation is exacerbated (hot days in summer or first days of ice fishing season).

Another option considered was issuing parking stickers for town residents, or taxpayers, so only vehicles displaying the stickers would be allowed to park in one of the 18 legal spots. The last option was to purchase a tire boot.

Waldo County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Jason Trundy spoke about how the current town ordinance is limited to who can enforce it. As written now, the selectmen or road commissioner are the only ones with that authority and the only enforcement action is to tow vehicles, which he said is "limiting."

He recommended progressive ticket enforcement action but conceded, "Some tickets will never be collected …. If that person doesn't pay and never comes back, well, I guess that part of the problem is solved."

One resident said she hoped approval of an enforcement effort also could include parking around Stevens Pond. In the summer, she said, when swim lessons are in session, parked cars stretch down busy Route 173. "It's dangerous," she said.

One resident noted it is a parking issue and said it would not affect people walking or riding bikes to Marshall Shores.

Road Commissioner Tammy Reynolds said limiting parking in the area to residents or taxpayers would exclude a lot of people who frequent Marshall Shores.

"You would be surprised at how many people are there on a hot day that are not from Liberty," she said. "I would wager 80 percent are not from Liberty."

In the end, voters approved the parking enforcement position as well as providing parking stickers to residents and taxpayers but did not go as far as approving the purchase of a boot as an additional deterrent.

One other topic of discussion that was hotly debated was Liberty Ambulance Service and what level of funding the town should provide.

Three options were presented and all of them were contingent on Montville approving the same level. The previous week, Montville residents approved spending $51,517 for continued Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., service with no weekend coverage.

Complicating matters at the Montville meeting, the most updated numbers detailing the three levels of funding requests by the ambulance service were not available by the time the annual report book was published, and an amendment had to be passed with $16,000 extra added from surplus to reach the lowest level of funding, $51,517.

Fire Chief Bill Gillespie called it very confusing and said, "They only voted on the amendment … all options had not been presented.

"…Montville residents, after a year of understanding this, may be more approachable if the correct information is available, that matches what we have."

According to Ambulance Chief Chris Birge, the $51,585 requested in Liberty is the same level of service currently in place. The reason for a larger request this year is because of increases in minimum wage, the Federal Insurance Contributions Act and Medicare.

One resident suggested amending the article to remove "contingent upon Montville approval," and to fund the upper level of service which would provide for seven days a week at $70,204 per year. According to the article, the Budget Committee recommended approving $51,585 assuming the use of $18,619 of funds not used from the previous year for ambulance funding to reach $70,204.

Treasurer Hannah Hatfield, who is also Montville's town clerk said, the proposal was confusing, but said she felt there was support in Montville for a higher level of funding. She said and it is "highly possible" there could be a special town meeting in Montville to reconsider funding the ambulance service at a higher level.

One resident's idea resonated with many people — "I would like to see the town of Montville and the town of Liberty get together and create a board and make a contract for service which is governed by a board, and they have residents from both towns on the board. Let the board set the cost, and just take the emotion out of this."

Birge was asked what kind of coverage to expect with Liberty contributing $70,000 and Montville contributing $51,500.

"To do it 24/7 through the week, we need $71,000 from each town," Birge said. "We have to modify it somehow. We will do the best we can with what we have, but we will not be able to provide 24/7 coverage."

After additional discussion, Liberty residents approved the higher amount which breaks down to $51,585 raised and appropriated and using $18,619 from previous ambulance funding to meet the agency request of $70,204.

In other actions, $140,000 earmarked for paving was removed from the budget at the request of Reynolds, while $40,000 was added to the Capital Reserve fund to pay for any emergency paving.

A citizens initiative was approved to replace the existing local food ordinance with a revised version that aligns with the provisions of the Maine Food Sovereignty Act.

In elections, all municipal officers were re-elected to their respective positions. Gail Philipi was voted in for another term as town clerk/tax collector/town agent, Hatfield as treasurer, Gillespie as fire chief and Reynolds as road commissioner. First Selectman Melinda Steeves was also re-elected for another term.

In a discussion about compensation, Philipi said she was making $2 more an hour than she did 18 years ago and said the current pay scale for municipal officers "is not keeping up."

An amendment approved increased municipal officer compensation, bumping Road Commissioner Reynolds' pay from $7,500 to $10,000 a year. While Town Administrator Kenn Ortmann was given a $2,000 raise from $15,000 to $17,000, all three selectmen received $3,000 — a considerable drop from the $9,000, 8,000 and $7,000, respectively, they previously were paid.

One reason for this, Steeves said, is that the town administrator has taken a lot of burden off the selectmen.

The town clerk and deputy also received raises from $15,632 to $23,273, and $15,632 to $21,904, respectively.

The meeting adjourned at approximately 12:30 p.m.