Foxborough’s Town Manager Kevin Paicos discussed his plans for balancing the town budget, the ongoing renovation projects in town and some thoughts on time he served in Afghanistan in Foxborough Patch's Q & A session.
Prior to working in Foxborough, you held town administrator positions in Easton and Hingham. How do you enjoy working in Foxborough?
It is fantastic. is full of wonderful people. My staff is just the best and the department heads are extremely well qualified people.
It seems that there is never enough hours in a day. You know you like your job when you leave for the day with still so many things on your plate and you think to yourself, “where did the time go?” I am absolutely loving my time here. I can see quantitatively that I will love this job for a long time.
Foxborough is a dynamic town. What do you see as the most pressing issue for the town as we enter 2011?
The most pressing issue will be dealing with the economy and lack of resources. Even though Foxborough has the stadium (), which is a huge advantage for us compared to most towns, we are still in no way isolated from the loss of revenue. Our revenue typically grows every year, but we are now in a mode, where it is declining in real dollars. At the same time if you try to keep all the same employees and try to provide the same service to the public, costs goes up. We are having a difficult time balancing the budget. That is by far our No. 1 challenge. If any town manager tells you something different, I think you have to ask, “are you paying attention?” It is universal these days and it is getting worse.
Next fiscal year, the state has made it clear they are going to have to cut local aid. The amount we believe they are going to cut, will not be made up by all of our other resources. Overall, we are slightly down from where we were last year. There is no revenue growth, but the budget needs to grow. It is going to be tough. Most towns have it worse than we do. So I am grateful for that because the stadium does provide a good portion of the amount of wealth, and most towns don’t have a stadium. We have not had a layoff yet either, and I hoping to avoid that again, but it is very challenging.
Speaking of balancing the budget, Foxborough currently has 3 major ongoing development projects. Can you speak on those?
Yes, right now the 3 projects are:
1. Renovation of the High School
2. Renovation of Boyden Library
3. Renovation of Town Hall
The taxpayers have been very generous and have given us extra money, letting us complete these renovations, but I suspect this will be the end (of renovations) for a little while.
You completed a yearlong military tour in Afghanistan, which ended in July of 2008. Is there anything you took away from your military experience that you can apply to your everyday life?
It (Afghanistan) is a different world. It is one of the most primitive places on earth. They are still heating their homes with wood, and on top of that they are fighting a war.
I don’t know if military experience per say does it, but combat does. Combat gives you a lot of perspective. Once you are in a life and death situation on a consistent basis, it really allows you to see what is challenging and what isn’t. That doesn’t mean when you come back to a civilian world, that everyday challenges aren’t important, they are important, but they do not seem as daunting. When you are literally fighting for your life, and a year later you are in an intense work meeting, and someone becomes critical of you, perspective tells you, I am not going to get rattled by this. It shows you what is really important. Family and friends, there is your short list. War gives you a wonderful sense of balance and perspective. It would do that for everyone, if it were the case that everyone in war went and came home safe. I was lucky.
In closing, is there anything you’d like the residents of Foxborough to be aware of?
We have a $2 million dollar budget deficit. If we take the current level of service we provide and we just increase that by whatever inflation requires, then the budget has to go up, to just maintain what we do by about $2 million dollars. But our revenue is down, so the difference of the revenue we predict we are going to have for next year and the cost to just retain our current service level is a $2 million dollar difference.
Now we have a creative plan to eliminate that deficit. I have not rolled out that plan yet. But I want to tell the public, that I am convinced that with a whole bunch of innovative ideas and a few other new proposals that we will be able to close that deficit without any service reductions. In about a month we will start to roll out a plan to the public with what we plan to do. I am optimistic. There are a lot of resources and a lot of money saving ideas. Town employees have generated an enormous list of money saving ideas. So many, that we will not be able to implement them all because there are only so many you can implement at one time. We have about 2 to 3 years worth of good ideas to try. The taxpayers are going to like what we come up with, especially in retaining services.