Folse said he spent the last couple weeks of December meeting with Mayor Tim Matte and former Chief Administrative Officer Lorrie Braus to help him transition into his new job.
Matte hired Folse as a city employee as of Jan. 1, in a chief administrative role, under Mayor-elect Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi’s recommendation.
Folse retired as police chief in September after serving as police chief since 2009. He retired with 31 years in the police department.
“Mayoral candidate Grizzaffi approached me shortly after I retired from the police department, and pitched an offer to me for this position,” Folse said. “Quite honestly, I hadn’t had enough retirement yet to recharge the batteries so to speak. I had to think about it for a length of time, and he gave me that length of time,” Folse said.
“Shortly before the (mayoral) runoff, we spoke again, and I confirmed that I would like to take the position,” Folse said.
Pending Folse’s official approval by the mayor and city council on Jan. 14, Folse’s salary will be $75,000, Grizzaffi said. The city budget has $92,000 budgeted for the chief administrative officer’s salary, but Folse and Grizzaffi agreed that Folse will be paid a lower salary, Grizzaffi said.
The position of chief administrative officer is a unique opportunity, Folse said. “It was something new for me that I only knew very little about just from my meetings with (previous CAOs) Ms. Braus and Mr. Bergeron over the years and Mr. Loupe over the years,” Folse said.
Though Folse’s first official day as a city employee was Jan. 1, he had been coming to City Hall during December to meet with staff members and departmental heads to prepare for the job, he said.
“What we did was, Ms. Braus was retiring after her 30 years with the city, and after the election … she (Braus) initiated her retirement and her vacation to where it would allow me to come in and start learning the position and meeting with her before she left,” Folse said.
Folse said his experience as police chief gave him confidence and convinced him that he could do the job. “It’s personnel management and project management but to a much more detailed degree as far as citywide functions,” he said. “I had a taste of this job by being chief of police, but by no means is it the same. This is going to be much more responsibility.”
He will be overseeing the city’s projects and will be working the departmental heads and mayor, he said.
Folse “stuck out” among a “handful of candidates” because of his experience in dealing with the public and major hurricanes, Grizzaffi said. Because Grizzaffi is new to the political scene, he knew he needed to find someone with city experience.
“He fits my management style best and has enough city experience to help us through that sharp learning curve that we’re going to have when we take over,” Grizzaffi said.
Folse will still receive his retirement benefits from the police department because the police and fire departments have separate retirement systems from the rest of the city. Folse said he would not have taken the job as CAO if the city and police department had the same retirement systems because he would have had to give up “too much money” to become CAO.