Could a battle over taxes bring a popular Carbon County tourist attraction to a halt?
That's the question being raised as Jim Thorpe borough remains in a legal battle with the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway over unpaid taxes.
The borough and the Jim Thorpe School District have filed a civil lawsuit against the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, which operates on the Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad.
They say the company owes them over $95,000 in taxes but the railroad isn't budging and now the two sides are at a standstill.
It could be enough to derail the attraction.
"There's a really strong possibility of them pulling out. What they're talking about doing is ceasing the rides that begin and then return to Jim Thorpe," said Michael Rivkin, interim president of the Jim Thorpe Tourism Agency.
Every year, the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway takes thousands of riders on a 45-minute excursion along the Lehigh River and into the Lehigh Gorge.
"They do a great job here and we love having them in town here. We certainly don't want them to go away," said Greg Strubinger, president of Jim Thorpe Borough Council.
But Strubinger and other borough officials do want the Railroad to pay up. The borough and school district are seeking over $95,000. That's what they say the company owes them in amusement taxes.
"We didn't want this to be an issue at all but like I said, the borough has an obligation, if this tax is enforced, we have an obligation to collect it," said Strubinger.
The fee in question is a 5% tax collected from any business in town that provides some sort of entertainment. Those same businesses also pay a 2.5% amusement tax to the Jim Thorpe School District. The Railroad has yet to pay its share.
"They just don't feel that they have to pay it and I mean, if there is a reason, we would certainly like to hear it," said Strubinger.
Now the battle is in court and there are talks of the Railway stopping its Jim Thorpe train rides for good. Rivkin says if that were to happen, the impact would be detrimental.
"To lose the train would have a really harsh effect on our local and county economy. I think the train brings revenue to the borough that ripples out throughout Carbon County," said Rivkin.
Meanwhile, the two sides remain at an impasse, with no set plans to talk about the issue.
"There's been some back and forth to have a discussion but nothing has been finalized," said Strubinger.
"No matter what side you're on, whether or not you feel they should pay the tax or not pay the tax, at the end of the day, you have to talk about it," added Rivkin.
Strubinger says if the Railroad paid the tax, it would generate an extra $20,000 annually for the borough.
He also tells News 13 a judge did rule in the borough's favor and the Railroad is now appealing that decision.
News 13 reached out to Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad regarding the lawsuit and did not hear back.