Jim Thorpe, Pa., drops suit over tourist railroad taxes, talks with R&N about return

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The borough of Jim Thorpe, Pa., has dropped its lawsuit over taxes and is in talks to bring the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railroad back to town, a TV station reports.
Scott A. Hartley

JIM THORPE, Pa. — The borough of Jim Thorpe and its school district have dropped their lawsuit against the Reading & Northern Railroad, and are holding discussions with the railroad about bringing the R&N’s Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway back to town.

BRC-13 TV reports that the borough and railroad have held two meetings with a goal of the railroad resuming operations from Jim Thorpe in 2020.

The Lehigh Gorge announced in October it would shut down as of Nov. 25, the result of the suit over what the borough and school district said were more than $95,000 in unpaid amusement taxes on ticket sales. [See “Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway to cease operations,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 16, 2019.] The railroad contended it was not an amusement and therefore not subject to the tax.

Just two days later, parent R&N announced a series of alternate locations for holiday train operations originally planned for Jim Thorpe. [See “Reading & Northern announces new Santa Train plans,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 18, 2019.]

Borough council president Greg Strubinger told the TV station that the borough had decided to “drop the litigation without prejudice,” although it could reopen the suit if the two sides fail to reach an agreement. Whether the borough still tries to collect the money remains to be seen; Strubinger said one purpose of the discussions was “to voice our concerns with some of the financial restraints and constraints we have.”

Michael Rivkin, interim president of the Jim Thorpe Tourism Agency, said the agency was “thrilled” the two sides were talking and applauded the borough’s “concession to show its good-faith effort to try to resolve the situation.”

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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