By Ashley Fletcher Frampton
Published Oct. 26, 2010
Patriots Point board members today chose Mac Burdette, the former Mount Pleasant town administrator, to take over as executive director starting in mid-November.
Burdette has been transitioning out of his role as administrator after 25 years with the town, and he officially completes that job Nov. 5, he said.
At Patriots Point, he will fill the executive position now held by Dick Trammell, who announced in August that he would step down by Dec. 31. Burdette will be the third executive director in three years.
Burdette takes over as the Patriots Point Development Authority struggles to find millions of dollars needed to maintain and repair the historic Navy ships that comprise Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.
Burdette said the massive development effort holds many answers to Patriots Point’s financial problems.
“At the same time,” he said, “the land has got to be used in a way that is going to be acceptable to literally hundreds of thousands of people out there.”
Executing a master plan that consultants recently presented to Patriots Point leaders will require close work with the town regarding land use and traffic, and that’s the kind of work Burdette said he has enjoyed doing for years.
Burdette said he also has experience raising money for projects that seem insurmountable. As an example, he said former Mount Pleasant Mayor Harry Hallman in 2000 made a request that the town find $120 million to fix its road problems.
Through a combination of local and federal dollars and Charleston County’s one-half% sales tax, the town found that money, Burdette said.
Patriots Point Development Authority Board Chairman John Hagerty said Burdette was among 42 applicants for the job.
The search followed the state’s recruiting process, he said. Board members interviewed several candidates today and decided to hire Burdette.
At a meeting earlier this month, board members discussed the need to raise the salary for the executive director to recruit an appropriate candidate. The range is now set between $80,000 and $120,000, and officials said the state allows them to pay no more than the midpoint of that range.
Hagerty said the board could still pursue a salary increase.
“But we felt it was important to get a good candidate in there now to run Patriots Point and not wait on that final resolution of a higher salary,” he said.
Burdette’s salary has not yet been set, Hagerty said, but will fall within the current range, and the board will seek state approval for the highest amount it can offer.
Also discussed at the recent meeting was the idea of splitting the executive director position into two or three separate jobs, particularly as the authority takes on a major real estate development effort. Hagerty said that is still on the table as well.
“We may well do another executive search if we feel that this is a two-person job,” Hagerty said.
He said Burdette has integrity, is a proven leader, is capable and energetic, and has experience working with Patriots Point.
“We think in Mac we have a rare opportunity to get a marvelous administrator,” Hagerty said. “We’ve seized on it.”
Burdette is retired from the U.S. Army. Now, he said, “I got to learn how to be a good sailor.”
Last year, Patriots Point Development Authority borrowed $9.2 million from state government to save the USS Laffey, a destroyer on display at the museum, from sinking. Now the authority lacks money to repay that loan, and board members are still working through the best way to return the ship to the harbor.
In addition, the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier needs millions of dollars in work, officials have said.
Board members have said the current financial crisis at Patriots Point stems from the lack of budgeting for maintenance and repair of its historic Navy ships over several decades.
Reach Ashley Fletcher Frampton at 843-849-3129.