A pooled sick-time-lending protocol could soon be a reality for Waterbury town employees. At this week’s April 20 select board meeting, Waterbury Select Board members voted to approve a “lending concept for sick time” protocol, which allows town employees to donate their sick days to employees in need.

“Basically, when you start a new job, you start acquiring sick time. People who have been working for a really long time have a lot of hours built up,” select board member Katie Martin told The Valley Reporter. For instance, Bill Shepeluk, town manager, has acquired 966 hours of sick time, about 40 days.

Shepeluk came up with the lending concept for sick time, wanting to donate his sick time to those who need it more, like new hires who haven’t acquired much sick time or people suffering from a prolonged illness. “It lets people reboot their sick time stock in times like this,” said Martin.

Board members expressed support for the plan.

At the same meeting, the board also discussed lowering the municipal tax rate by eliminating various expenses across the budget. The board considered a budget proposal that would lower the Town Meeting Day approved tax rate of 55 cents to 50 cents, a 9% reduction. Under this plan, the town would save money by eliminating unnecessary projects and material expenses, like some paving projects, field maintenance projects and money for postage.

At a future meeting, the board will decide what tax rate they would like to bill, either the 55 cent tax rate approved on Town Meeting Day or something lower for those who are having difficulty paying their taxes during the pandemic.

Additionally, multiple town employees have been laid off, which yields a weekly savings of $7,635, according to Shepeluk. Salaried employees have taken voluntary pay cuts that save another $325 a week. Four of the town’s eight highway employees whose hours had all been cut to 20 hours a week will be fully laid off at the end of this work week, saving an additional $2,000.