Court Ruling Lets Council Majority Call Special Meetings
Posted on Monday, October 23rd, 2017 at 10:01 am.

The Supreme Court of South Carolina will not review an appeals court ruling that three members of the Chapin Town Council may legally call a special meeting of the Town Council and set the agenda to be considered.
A Court order issued on Oct. 19, denies the petition for a writ of certiorari petitioned by Mayor James R. “Skip” Wilson and Council Member Gregg White, against an appeals court ruling some 15 months ago favoring Council Members Bibi Atkins, Kay Hollis and Robbie Frick.

The ruling means that special meetings called by Atkins, Hollis and Frick on April 10 and 17, 2014, were legal, and actions taken during those meetings were official and binding. Mayor Wilson and Councilman White did not attend the meetings.

The three council members, constituting a majority, had voted to amend the ordinance governing meeting agendas. Their provisions allowed any member of council to add an agenda item and also gave residents the opportunity to recommend items.

Circuit Judge Thomas Cooper declared the special meetings “illegal because the members did not present the agenda to the mayor for his approval.”

On March 9, 2016, the SC Court of Appeals overturned Cooper’s order that gave Wilson sole authority to decide what items will be discussed at all council sessions.

The court said allowing the mayor to veto topics other town leaders want to discuss and possibly adopt is “effectively stripping the majority of its authority to call the meeting.”

Since there can be no further appeal of the Supreme Court’s decision, a majority of council members may call special meetings and set the agenda to be discussed and voted on at those meetings, with or without the mayor’s approval.

Council member Kay Hollis said she is pleased with the Supreme Court decision. Mrs. Atkins did not seek re-election and is not currently a member of Council. Council member Robbie Frick will complete his term this year and is not seeking re-election.