Just two weeks after agreeing to leave his job a year early and still get paid, former Foxborough town manager Kevin Paicos has been named one of two finalists for a part-time, temporary town administrator job in Northfield, a small community in the Berkshires.
A decision is expected to be made on Sept. 3, according to selectmen there.
Paicos confirmed his candidacy in a phone interview on Wednesday. He said the severance agreement that sends him on his way from Foxborough with $211,000 in pay and benefits – and requires him to be on call to finish municipal tasks – does not consider his taking another job “double-dipping” because it specifically allows him to seek other employment.
“And I’m doing that,” he said.
Foxborough officials have not discussed whether Paicos left voluntarily or was shown the door. They released a statement announcing the severance deal, thanked him for his service, and declined to reveal any other details.
Paicos has also declined comment up to this point except to say he has nothing but good feelings for the town and the friends he made there over the past three years.
The saga has been shrouded in mystery since late May when Paicos failed to return from a military leave in Mississippi and selectmen announced they had reached a mutual decision with the Easton resident not to renew his contract when it expires on June 30, 2014.
Town officials then named Town Clerk Bob Cutler as acting town manager, and earlier this month revealed the buyout plan after a series of meetings behind closed doors with a labor attorney.
Paicos was subsequently placed on administrative leave.
Selectmen were scheduled to release the minutes from those executive sessions at their regular weekly meeting last Tuesday, and had also planned to make a statement, according to an agenda that was distributed days before the meeting.
When the meeting began, however, board chairman Mark Sullivan said town labor attorney Leo Peloquin was unable to be there and had to review the material before it is released.
On Wednesday, Peloquin said the minutes will probably be released at the next selectmen’s meeting, in two weeks.
He also said that while Paicos’s obligation to return to town and help out over the next year is outlined in the agreement, there is a clause that says he has the right to seek another job.
“We all went into this with our eyes wide open,” Peloquin said. “Kevin has a right to pursue other employment.”
The lawyer said it’s too early to know whether the distance between Northfield and Foxborough – about a two-hour drive – will be an issue if Paicos is hired, he said.
Paicos and Joseph Kellogg of Sandisfield, a Berkshire County community near Pittsfield with a population of 915 , are in the running for the part-time job to replace the Northfield manager, who left for another opportunity.
In an article in the Greenfield Recorder, Northfield officials characterize both candidates as retired managers who are seeking part-time, temporary work “due to income and time constraints placed on their pensions by state law.”
“The two candidates we interviewed were qualified and very personable,” said Jack Spandauer, chairman of Northfield’s Board of Selectmen, in an interview Wednesday.
Spandauer said he was vaguely aware of the issues that have surrounded Paicos’s tenure in Foxborough. Those have included clashes with selectmen and The Kraft Group, the town’s largest taxpayer, over a proposed $1 billion casino proposal that was eventually withdrawn.
Spandauer said what stands out to Northfield’s selectmen are Paicos’s decades of municipal experience in a variety of towns.
On Wednesday, Paicos said he had a good experience interviewing in Northfield, has also talked with town officials by phone, and is confident that he has been fully vetted and is standing on his experience.
“I’m sure the selectmen in Northfield are very smart and they would do the simplest thing in 2013, which is to ‘Google’ a person to see some of what was touched on upon my leaving Foxborough,” Paicos said. “And I am assuming they are satisfied with what they’ve read, and what I’ve said.”
During Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting, Foxborough Finance Director Randy Scollins also clarified the transition costs associated with Paicos’s departure, explaining the number that was reported by the Globe and other media outlets last week is closer to $361,000 than the near $500,000 reported.
About $211,000 of the cost includes Paicos’s pay for the year, which is already budgeted, Scollins said. The remaining $150,000 for recruitment costs and supplements to Cutler’s salary in the heightened role will come from town accounts and a request for a $95,000 appropriation at the Fall Town Meeting, he said.
Looking forward to a permanent replacement for Paicos, selectmen also said last week that they are talking about using the University of Massachusetts-Boston’s Collins Center for Public Management to help recruit a candidate.