Hilton Head mayor overstepped in forming task force, attorney says

Hilton Head Island Mayor Tom Peeples violated municipal code when he created a task force to study the island's future, according to the town's legal counsel.

Peeples said during Tuesday's Town Council meeting that attorney Greg Alford had said the mayor had the authority to create the task force, but he has since reversed himself.

Peeples handpicked the 13-member task force in December to draft recommendations on how to make the island's economy less dependent on tourism and move forward with redevelopment. The group disbanded in September after presenting its final report to Town Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission.

  • Peeples said Alford changed his mind after Councilman Bill Ferguson challenged the opinion. Ferguson has said a task force can only be created by a resolution of Town Council.
  • A resolution brought by Ferguson before council earlier this year to sanction the task force failed, with council members saying the resolution would be an affront to Peeples.

    Town code states the mayor may appoint council members to standing committees, but only Town Council may appoint committees, boards and commissions relating to affairs of municipal government.

    "It's a gray area," Peeples said. "Nothing is going to change. The information is there for the use of whomever would like to utilize it, whether it's the town, the Planning and Zoning Commission or a person off the street. I still think it's important information."

    Ferguson said he was "delighted" to hear Peeples make the statement and considers the issue settled.

    Alford did not attend Tuesday's meeting.