VASSALBORO — To pay or not to pay for employees’ lunch breaks?

That was the question last week as Vassalboro selectmen edited their draft personnel handbook, with most town employees in attendance.

Currently, public works employees are the only ones who get paid for their half-hour lunch break. Philip Haines, chairman of the selectmen, thinks all employees should be treated alike.

Rather than giving Town Office staff paid lunch breaks, his inclination is to take them away from the Public Works Department.

The idea is not well received by a crew that works four 10-hour days per week in the summer and would have to go to 10-1/2 hour days.

Or they could skip lunch, suggested J.J. Wentworth, who asked if he could go home half an hour early if he declined his unpaid lunch time.


Haines, who is retired from the state public health service, and Town Manager Mary Sabins both encouraged the crew to take a break to eat and rest at some point during their workday.

Selectmen left the issue unresolved.

Selectman Lauchlin Titus proposed adding to the policy a section allowing employees to donate part of their accumulated sick leave to a pool from which an employee with a long-term illness could draw. After discussion, the idea was amended to allow situation-by-situation donations of sick time, instead of a pool.

Selectmen asked Sabins to draft appropriate language.

Road Commissioner Eugene Field said that in the past, after employees had taken all of their accumulated sick leave, they were paid for an extra eight hours’ work a month if they took no sick time.

Haines did not like the idea. Field told him he once endorsed it, and proved it by producing a 1984 personnel policy including the provision, signed by Haines along with then-selectmen Harland Robinson and Montie Cunningham.


The policy was changed four months before he reached the then-maximum 120 accumulated hours, Field said.

Selectmen will revisit the draft handbook again in two weeks. Haines said the revised draft would be circulated to employees before the selectmen’s meeting.

The second editing job Thursday evening was on draft bylaws for the Vassalboro Recreation Committee. They, too, were left incomplete, to give Recreation Director Nicole Wasilewski time to review them with the committee.

Wasilewski again asked why former committee member Kristen Bowker was not reappointed. Wasilewski said the committee needs Bowker to write grant applications.

Haines could not give a reason. Titus said he approved the names on a list of proposed committee members given to the board.

Not her list, Wasilewski said.


Selectman Robert Browne said he recommended appointing people he believes fill a need on the committee. If the committee needs a grant writer, Sabins could do the job, he said.

Sabins confirmed that she would write grant applications for the recreation program when asked.

Before Thursday’s meeting began, Haines displayed the town’s plaque recognizing a “supreme” rating for Vassalboro’s 2010 town report from the Maine Municipal Association and read an accompanying letter of congratulations.

Mary Grow is a Kennebec Journal correspondent who lives in China.

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