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Tax Fight Threatens to Derails Train Rides in Jim Thorpe

JIM THORPE, Pa. -- Nothing says fall quite like the Jim Thorpe Fall Foliage Festival.

The park downtown is lined with pumpkin faced scarecrows and corn stalks.

Beth Williams from Kutztown and her mother came for a mother-daughter trip.

"I love it. I love the community, and everyone comes to it. It seems like it's a big hit everywhere," said Beth Williams.

The Fall Foliage Festival takes place during the first three weekends of October.

The borough is packed with people, enjoying fall fun downtown and the seasonal sights.

"Love it! I love the mountains, the leaves changing color. Enjoyable," said Karen Burg, Pennsburg.

While there is plenty of excitement surrounding the festival, there is also a bit of a dark cloud. This after the borough filed a lawsuit against the company that runs the train downtown.

According to court paperwork, Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway failed to pay the borough's amusement tax from 2016 to 2018 and owes more than $90,000.

The 5 percent tax applies to entertainment businesses in Jim Thorpe.

Visitors hope this ride ends smoothly.

"It is a very enjoyable ride but they have to be responsible citizens as we all need to be and to be able to pay those taxes when they are due. I hope that they can work it out. Nobody wants to see the rides end, and hopefully, they will be able to bring this to a nice fruition for everyone," said Lee Burg, Pennsburg.

The borough council president said right now, officials are in a holding pattern with the railway and hope to come to a resolution that keeps the train running in Jim Thorpe.

13 comments

  • Denpachii

    I tried to go on that train ride today. What a waste of my time.The town is a joke for parking, road control and people control. I get into the area an hour and a half before the train is to depart on the foliage tour, It takes me 15 minutes to get from the bridge to the town in bumper to bumper traffic, about another ten to cross the town to find no parking available anywhere, but follow the sign! it will lead you to lot A… theoretically. You follow the signs for about a mile then miss the turn at the last moment because of poor placement, travel another mile to turn around, find the turn, crawl through tiny streets to find the field parking is not only small but also filled. Next place to park, three miles away. By that time It was only twenty minutes for the ride to leave, so I went home.

  • lamestream r

    The meaning of insanity: Lets tax an entity to its demise, because said entity is bringing in more revenue for the City from the people visiting said entity, then the tax will generate from taxing said entity!

    • Harry Fetterman

      Demise? What about everyone else that pays their tax? Owing 90,000 at 5% means they grossed 1.8 million in the last two years. Everyone else should pay the burden for bringing in tourists that benefit relatively few businesses in town, as most the citizens work elsewhere? Why should I have to pay to upkeep their revenue? Why is it on all the other businesses? Would they come for the train ride if there were no place to get a bite to eat afterwards, or a shop to visit?

      • Graham Lake

        I guess we’re going to find out just how “little” the railroad actually benefits Jim Thorpe, PA. The railroad has elected to remove their burden from downtown Jim Thorpe and are going to set up shop in another town with a mayor and council that are smart enough not to cut off their nose to spite their face by charging a ridiculous and unnecessary tax that is unheard of in other parts of the state and country. Do you think that the restaurants and shops that were built up to cater to all those tourists will survive in Jim Thorpe while the railroad moves its base camp to another town? Was it worth pushing them out over $90000 when the businesses surrounding the railroad probably made 10x that and will now lose most of their business and likely eventually have to close down? Whatever your answer, one thing is obvious: the mayor and council of Jim Thorpe didn’t deserve to have the benefit of this railroad attraction–so many other communities around the country would give anything to have a draw like that in their town–mine included, and now, one lucky community WILL have that draw and resulting positive economic growth! Having the draw of the railroad itself just wasn’t good enough for Jim Thorpe…they had to bilk them for every penny they could, but they will no more. I’m so glad the railroad’s operators used their noodle on this–and its great that they have other options and can take the show on the road. I only hope the innocent bystanders–the other local business owners who themselves were victims of this tax–have a viable plan B to feed their families when the railroad leaves town and puts them almost or completely out of business. And the answer to your last question is “yes”–the tourists WILL still come to ride the train without the restaurants and shops of downtown Jim Thorpe…they’ll just eat and shop in some other town and not give Jim Thorpe a second thought! ;)

  • Henry Sommers

    I’ve been to Jim Thorpe several times in the past several years and have not seen any industry. So, the stores, the businesses now there, the economy of the town, rests on the shoulders of tourists. That is the people who come to Jim Thorpe to ride the train. Eliminate the train, and eliminated Jim Thorpe!

  • yougottabekiddin1

    More government greed. Their solution to overspending and mismanagement…taxes! If these municipalities could put a meter on your rectum, they would tax you to go the bathroom! Entertainment tax..what a joke. They would deserve it if the train rides stopped doing business!

  • Megan Roloson

    Cutting off your nose to spite you face comes to mind. They should be giving them tax credits seeing as they are pulling in customers and keeping the town alive.

    • darkhorse6669

      And without them nothing gets paid for and everything stops… or do you still buy into trickle down economics?

      • yabbadabbadude

        And when things get overtaxed they shut down and nothing gets paid. (I use the $15 minimum wage as a prime example of that – hours get cut, people get laid off, prices get raised, and the place eventually shuts down. Economics isn’t one of your strong points, is it.)

    • JIMBRONY

      Darkhorse likes excessive taxes because he doesn’t pay any but still gets all the freebies and benefits from those that do.

    • JIMBRONY

      Dark.horse likes excessive taxes because he doesn’t pay any but still gets all the fre.ebies and benefits from those that do.

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