Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum is paying $5,000 a month for legislative lobbyists and State Treasurer Curtis Loftis wants to know why. Museum Director Mac Burdette explains–
It dates back, from what I understand, to when the Laffey problems began and trying to figure out how to work out a loan with the state, and also try to make federal connections to see if there was any, at that time, stimulus money available through the federal programs that might be able to help deflate the costs of trying to repair the Laffey.
Patriots Point is still behind schedule to repay the state $9 million it borrowed to repair the USS Laffey, that Burdette says will be paid back–eventually. He says the lobbyists bills are not necessarily “bad,” and that they free his time up to work on other projects.
The last three months, let’s put it this way: I would spent so much more time in Columbia that I wouldn’t have been able to turn my attention to all the things that needed to be done right here, at Patriots Point, in the Charleston community. Now, that’s all I can tell you. How much is that worth? I can’t put a price tag on it.
However, the treasurer says the $5,000 spent a month–stalls the museum from paying the state back the $9 million. Burdette defends his agency–
We are one of the few state agencies in the state of South Carolina, number one, that gets no state appropriations, zero, none, that is in the black. We are actually, in the year, once again with a reserve amount to carry forward to the next year. Now, that’s a fact, that’s what I gave you. And, we are doing very well, and we’ve always had to live with what we make out there, we don’t get any state appropriations.
Burdette, who was not at Patriots Point when it borrowed the $9 million for the Laffey, says they do have a plan to pay the money back.
We have made a proposal to the Joint Bond Review Committee, which is another one of those things you have to go through on a process that would allow us to pay the loan back. First, we are going to ask for a two-year extension, we were offered to pay a certain amount of cash down. We get a two-year extension and in that two-year period of time, we believe that we will have in place opportunities using our land value in order to create enough money to start paying our loan back either in a lump sum or in a major chunk.
State Treasurer Loftis says people deserve answers about why the money is not being paid back now, when Burdette says the museum is doing well.