Councilors, Paicos hope to reach severance
When the town councilors strike a severance agreement with recently resigned Town Administrator Kevin Paicos, the relationship between the two parties will officially be over, lasting just 147 days from the time of his hiring.
The Paicos tenure ended last week when Council President Kristine Trocki emerged from executive session with the unexpected announcement. A joint statement said Paicos decided to return to Massachusetts. According to his contract, “The charter requires ... the employee to maintain residency in the town during the course of his employment.”
Paicos was a full-time employee of Jamestown for 14 weeks.
The contract, however, is wrong. According to a copy of the town charter given to the Press by Trocki, the town administrator must “remain a qualified elector and resident of the state.” Previously, the charter required the chief executive to be a resident of Jamestown, although it was amended in November 2009. As of Tuesday, the erroneous document is the version available on the town’s website.
As for the contract, Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero said it was his mistake. He used an older contract with boilerplate language and overlooked the discrepancy.
While the endorsed reason for the split was residency, Paicos’ tenure was nonetheless turbulent. His most controversial recommendation was to eliminate Justin Jobin’s position as environmental scientist. The post is also responsible for coordinating the town’s geographical information system.
Jobin was shocked when he learned in January that his job might be in jeopardy. In the following weeks, letters poured in from residents supporting Jobin, including correspondence from Conservation Chairwoman Maureen Coleman. A total of nine letters in support of Jobin were included in the council packet from its early February meeting.
Paicos also seemed out of touch when the councilors asked him to draft a list of goals for the upcoming year. Paicos submitted a list of 34 objectives in late January, and all but 14 were turned away. Then, during a question-and-answer session sponsored by the Taxpayers Association of Jamestown, Paicos said he was considering a recommendation to eliminate a full-time police officer in favor of parttimers. He said too many officers were patrolling the streets at once.
“They’re driving around in circles,” he said.
Whether or not residency was the council’s only concern is a matter of speculation. Trocki said she first learned of the resignation during the executive session, but earlier in the day, the Press received a call saying Paicos and the town were severing ties. Hours later, the announcement was made.
Councilors have been mum about the goings-on from the executive session that left the town without an administrator. Because information from the meeting is privileged, the town could be liable if the exchange was leaked. Councilors Blake Dickinson and Gene Mihaly deflected questions to Trocki, and Council Vice President Mary Meagher said she couldn’t discuss any matters related to Paicos.
In a mass email from Jerry Scott, president of the taxpayers association, six days after the resignation, Scott said he was “befuddled” about the Paicos situation. He then attempted to schedule a meeting for Dickinson to “provide a more detailed explanation,” but those plans quickly folded because Dickinson told Scott the town could be sued if any councilor discussed Paicos.
In Trocki’s announcement, she said Paicos was “unable to maintain residency and will return to live full time in the commonwealth of Massachusetts.” Currently, according to Ruggiero, Paicos does have a lease on an apartment in town. The lease terminates in June, but Ruggiero could not say who is footing the bill for the vacant apartment. He said it may be part of Monday’s severance discussion. (In Paicos’ contract, the town agreed to a monthly housing allowance of $1,000.)
According to the terms of his contract, if Paicos voluntarily resigned, he is obligated to give two months written notice in advance. Failure to give any notice will result in a “pro-rata reduction in any accrued benefits.”
If the employee is terminated or asked to resign, however, the contract points to the town charter, which says he is entitled to up to three months pay. Moreover, the contract stipulates Paicos’ health and life insurance coverage will continue at its current level for two months.
Before coming to Jamestown, Paicos was the town manager in Foxborough, Mass., a relationship that also ended in severance. He was put on paid administrative leave for the final 11 months of his contract that began in October 2011. While town administrator of Jamestown, Paicos was collecting a weekly salary of $2,852 from the town that hosts Gillette Stadium. The complete severance deal with Foxborough totaled $211,230 in salary and benefits, and did not prohibit him from seeking employment.
“The board thanks Mr. Paicos for his service to the town,” said the joint statement. “Mr. Paicos thanks the board and the citizens of Foxborough for the opportunity to serve as its town manager.”
The statement Trocki read following his resignation in Jamestown last week had a similar tone. “The Town Council wishes to offer sincere and heartfelt thanks to Mr. Paicos for making the effort to accommodate the interest of the Town Council and the town of Jamestown ... Mr. Paicos extends his sincere and heart-felt thanks to the many people he has met in Jamestown.”
Paicos also didn’t finish his contract as town administrator of Hingham, Mass., where he was chief operating officer from January 2009 to October 2011.
The councilors will meet in executive session on Thursday at 5 p.m. to discuss a new town administrator. A vote is possible. The town’s second choice in last year’s search was Andrew Nota, director of administrative services in South Kingstown. Nota, who holds the same position Bruce Keiser did before he took the job as Jamestown’s chief executive, has already met with the councilors since Paicos’ resignation.