FOXBORO - Kevin E. Paicos, who became Hingham's town manager early last year, said he did not plan to apply for Foxboro's top job now, but was recruited by several callers.
An Easton resident, he said he now sees Foxboro as an opportunity to work closer to his home, in a town with an able board of selectmen, strong departments heads, a generally healthy balance sheet, potential for commercial growth and a proud local history.
"I love this job - it doesn't matter where I do this. It doesn't feel like work," said Paicos, 56, who has held top administrative jobs in six towns over about 25 years.
Paicos was one of the two finalists interviewed by selectmen last week for town manager.
Finance Director Randy Scollins is the other candidate.
The board will deliberate and vote Tuesday, starting at 7:05 p.m.
Paicos spoke with pride of Easton's achievements during his 15 years as town administrator, through April 2003, notably the upgrading of the town's bond rating and its lead role in forming regional health insurance, purchasing and training collaboratives.
Under his leadership, Paicos said, workers in Easton developed a team spirit.
He said his management style is collaborative, and that he likes to bring employees and the community into the problem-solving process - as when Hingham department leaders, last summer, were asked to submit money-saving and revenue-enhancing ideas.
Paicos said a 10 percent savings can be found in any budget.
He handed out a sheet listing areas where Hingham achieved budget savings, including through hiking fees, extending its solid waste disposal contract with SEMASS at a favorable rate, and acceptance of the local option meals tax.
"I can't tell you where the opportunities are in Foxboro, but I can tell you they are there," Paicos said.
Concerning collective bargaining, he said it's essential to treat employees with honesty, equality and respect, even when the manager cannot grant all the union's demands.
Paicos, who holds a master's degree in public administration from Northeastern University, teaches collective bargaining and other subjects as an adjunct instructor at Bridgewater State College.
He said workers value financial rewards, but value recognition even more, and he tries to give it.
He said he formally evaluates subordinates, based on established, objective goals.
Responding to Selectwoman Lorraine Brue's question about a trail of "controversy" amid his job departures, Paicos said town managers and administrators typically last 3 or 4 years in a job, and that "it has nothing to do with how we do our jobs, it has to do with a lot of other factors."
He said Foxboro cannot expect to see a tenure to match that of Andrew Gala, who retired after 30 years.
Explaining his departure from Ashburnham after 3 1/2 years, Paicos said that while he was deployed in the Middle East for a year with the military, an accountant in Ashburnham made a $400,000 mistake, leaving a budget problem he tried to fix upon his return. Left cash-strapped, he said, the town was unable to give him the $30,000 pay raise he needed to move from Easton to Ashburnham. In January, 2009, he moved on to his current job in Hingham.
Now seeking to leave Hingham with more than a year left on his contract, Paicos said he enjoys that job, but finds the commute an ordeal. He said he considered moving to Hingham, but the didn't do so because of the real estate costs, and that he'd like to move to Foxboro if hired as Gala's successor.
Immediately before taking the Ashburnham job, he said he worked for more than two years in a "lucrative," but unsatisfying private sector insurance industry job.
Asked what he wishes he'd done differently over the years, Paicos said he had to fire a number of people in his career and that often the need to fire a person represents a manager's failure to address a problem early and help the worker overcome the deficiency.
He said his own firing, in 1986, after only about a year as the Winchendon town manager, was a valuable lesson in how painful a dismissal can be.
Paicos said he stays out of local politics, giving information and advice to the selectmen, who make policy, and carrying out their decisions.
He said his approach reflects his military service. Having served in both the Army and the National Guard, he was deployed to Afghanistan for a year, through July 2008, and said getting shot at tends to put civilian challenges in perspective.