For Hurtsboro, Ala., the trial is over and the election is not.
A visiting judge has ruled against five residents who sought to have the town's charter forfeited on claims that the government was inadequately funded and failed to provide necessary services. In a decision signed Tuesday, Probate Judge Alfonza Menefee said petitioners Robert J. Schweiger, Royce "Tag" Williams, William Streetman, George Walston and Robert Lee Pittman failed to meet the standards set by state law for dissolving a municipal government.
According to Alabama law, a town with a population of 1,100 of fewer may lose its charter if it fails to elect a mayor or other chief executive officer for more than a year after the election date; if it fails to levy and collect taxes for more than three consecutive years; or if it fails to keep its roads "in proper condition."
In his decision, Menefee wrote that the five petitioners claimed Hurtsboro had not collected taxes nor maintained the roads, but "failed to carry their burden of proof." Their other claims, that the town failed to fill a vacancy on its city council and provided inadequate police protection and garbage pickup, are not grounds for forfeiting a charter, Menefee wrote.
Besides denying their petition, Menefee ordered the petitioners to pay the defendants $3,500 in court costs and attorney's fees, costing them $700 each.
Now the town's to carry on with its mayoral election, in which 147 people voted on Aug. 26. It's headed to an Oct. 7 runoff between Rayford Tapley and Teutonya Burns. In unofficial returns reported from the election a week ago, Tapley got 62 votes and Burns got 57. A third candidate, Greg Smith, got 28 votes, according to Town Clerk Jim Baxley.