After nearly 38 minutes of discussion and debate Tuesday, The Foxborough Board of Selectmen voted 3-2 in favor of keeping Town Manager Kevin Paicos’ salary at $148,320 for fiscal year 2013.
Members of the board engaged in what BOS chairman James DeVellis called an “uncomfortable” process in publicly discussing whether or not to increase Paicos’ salary for fiscal year 2013.
Selectmen Clerk Lorraine Brue and Vice Chair Mark Sullivan voted against Sullivan’s motion “to keep town manager’s pay at status quo with no increase” because they each believed Paicos’ performance over the past year warranted an increase in salary.
“I think last year was the most difficult year I have ever seen this town go through,” Sullivan said. “A natural disaster, a second natural disaster, disagreements, issues with board members. There’s definitely room for improvement, we’re all improving every day. … I expect him to be better [in fiscal year 2013]. … I think he’s understanding this town, he’s understanding this board and we’re working together and I think the incentive of giving him two percent is where I’d be right now.”
“Like Mark said, this is the toughest year he’s ever experienced,” Brue said. “I agree with that 100 percent. The crisis handling that was demonstrated was well done, I think this is a matter of recognizing a professional performance and I would personally view it as a tremendous slap in the face to not be recognized in any way for such a body of work that has been produced.”
Brue cited Paicos’ accomplishments warranted a discussion on an increase in the town manager’s salary and suggested a two percent raise with room to grow in six months.
“I think the list of [Paicos’] accomplishments is significant,” she said. … “If standards are met in areas that were considered deficient in evaluation so [in six months than a .5 percent increase should be discussed]. I really think we would be doing a disservice to this position as the senior executive of the town by not recognizing the accomplishments.”
While DeVellis did not disagree with Brue’s reasoning, he did disagree with increasing the town manager’s salary.
“I keep going back to in my mind to one of the first steps we did to try and save the town money, which was to say ‘look, everyone is going through a tough time, private and public, there’s layoffs coming, there’s cuts, everyone is doing it in every town around,’” DeVellis said. … “Kevin [Paicos] got the three percent [increase] last year, regardless of how he got it. It was three percent last year; I think it has got to be zero percent this year. Then you are on the same [level] with everyone else that is working and you are giving the same orders.”
Selectman Lynda Walsh agreed with the board’s chair, saying the town manager had to tell union and non-union workers alike they had to take zero percent salary increases for fiscal year 2013.
“They took the zero,” Walsh said of other town employees. “So now I think it is Kevin’s turn to take the zero. I think it’s only going to better his relationship when he goes and sits down at the table with these folks. … It hasn’t been the best two years money-wise and that’s what I preach to everybody. We don’t have the money to do this. That’s what Kevin presented and told us all. I’m not saying Kevin has done anything wrong and I’m not taking anything way from Kevin.”
DeVellis and Walsh each stressed that their recommendation for a zero percent increase in Paicos’ salary was not a reflection on his job performance or work ethic but a result of staying consistent with town salaries.
“I say [zero percent increase] and it is uncomfortable and it is public and it is not reflective of [Paicos’] work ethic or [his] achievements but I think that’s where I’m at with this right now.”
Selectman Virginia Coppola agreed.
“It’s not a reflection on Kevin, I think he has to take one for the whole town,” she said. “If we are asking the other unions to do that.”
At one point during discussions, DeVellis asked Paicos if he’d be willing to tell the board a number he was expecting to receive from Tuesday’s salary review. Paicos, as DeVellis expected, wasn’t comfortable with the question.
“I won’t offer the board a number,” Paicos said. “Thank you for the opportunity. All I expect in my expectation is that you evaluate me fairly and you’ve done that. I think you’ve done a great job. There’s plusses and minuses as there always are. I think the board has to decide what that reviews merits. Whatever your decision is, I can assure you I will respect it. I know how hard you worked at the evaluations … I saw them. That was a lot of hard work.”
Paicos added he signed a document that says from this point forward he will trust the board to do the fair and right thing.
“I didn’t sign that because I intended to complain after you made your decision,” he said. “I signed it because I decided to trust you.”
Despite three members of the board favoring no increase in Paicos’ salary, Sullivan searched for a compromise and Brue agreed.
“I think a compromise is the least we could consider,” Brue said. … “I just don’t think it’s fair to this position as CEO of the town to not acknowledge through their compensation what this individual and this position is doing throughout this past year. … I just feel like we are looking back and not looking forward.”
Walsh disagreed, citing how difficult it was for Paicos to tell other town employees they would not be receiving a salary increase this year.
“It was very hard,” Walsh said. “He had to go and tell all those people. It’s very difficult for me to say ‘Kevin, I’d like you to take the zero but I’m not taking anything away from his job and I’m not asking him to make a decision to stay or leave. What it has to do with is what is fair is fair.”
After further debate between Brue and Walsh, Sullivan – against his opinion – made a motion “to keep town manager’s pay at status quo with no increase.”
Walsh seconded the motion.
DeVellis, Walsh and Coppola voted in favor of the motion made by Sullivan. Brue and Sullivan voted against the motion but the motion carried with a 3-2 vote and Paicos’ salary remained at $148,320 for fiscal year 2013.
“It was uncomfortable but thank you for the discussion,” DeVellis said. “On behalf of the board, Kevin, we look forward to working with you in the upcoming year.”
More on Paicos’ Contract
Paicos’ contract with the town of Foxborough began on Oct. 4, 2010. Selectmen are required to review it in May and June and it is based on his performance of meeting his goals and objectives.
Holding Performance Reviews and Contract Reviews in Public
“After Kevin’s performance review, I got some heat from some citizens who said ‘how dare you do Kevin’s review in public’ and ‘how would you like that?’” DeVellis said. “Mass law is very specific that his reviews have to be public and there’s reasons for that. There’s uncomfortableness and I will be the first to say I don’t like doing it. I’m sure Kevin doesn’t like doing it in the public but the benefit of doing it in the public far outweighs doing it in private. The reason we did his review in public is because it is required. The reason we are doing his salary review is that it is required. … I thought it was important for people to understand that.”