Beaufort County airports director Paul Andres has resigned, apparently after having a "difference of opinion" with county administrator Gary Kubic.
Kubic would not provide details about the disagreement, which led Andres to resign last week. However, he said the former airports director had become increasingly "frustrated" about the pace and process for several projects under consideration at the Beaufort County and Hilton Head airports.
"I know that everything was wearing on him, and probably to a point, so was the county administrator," Kubic said. "I wanted his resignation, so he gave me his resignation, and I will leave it at that."
Attempts Thursday to reach Andres, whose resignation was effective immediately, were unsuccessful.
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Terms of his departure were not available Tuesday. County policy allows employees to collect any unused personal leave days, up to 35, when they leave.
Records show Andres earned $76,844 a year.
Andres, a retired Marine Corps fighter pilot, was hired as airports director in 2006. Previously, he was the county's capital improvements program manager.
He was responsible for managing the general-aviation Beaufort County Airport on Lady's Island and the Hilton Head Island Airport, which offers multiple daily commercial flights to Charlotte.
Councilman Steve Baer, who has been outspoken on airport issues, said Andres was caught in the middle of a long, increasingly nasty fight between groups that support airport expansion plans on Hilton Head and Lady's Island and those that oppose them.
"He got done the things I felt he needed to get done, and he was very professional in his approach," said Baer, who noted that Andres raised revenues at the Hilton Head airport.
Councilman Rick Caporale, who also represents part of Hilton Head, said he was "surprised and disappointed" when he learned Andres had left the position.
"These are complicated, highly regulated operations," Kubic said, "and then you throw in all the politics and the debate, and the length of time it takes to make decisions, and it's hard on the manager."
Director of engineering Rob McFee and deputy county administrator Bryan Hill will run the airports until a replacement is found. Finance department staff will continue working on two federal-grant applications begun by Andres that are due early next year, Hill said.
"Whenever you lose an employee with that kind of experience, there are some things we need to pick up and pick up quickly but we have people to do that," said Hill, who noted that daily airport operations should not be affected.
The county will advertise for the open position within a week or two but no timeline was given for when it might be filled.