Glendora mayor claims railroad owes village $833,000 in taxes

By JUSTIN VICORY,

By JUSTIN VICORY, The Clarion-Ledger

The Canadian National railway snakes through cities, towns and villages in Mississippi as it makes its way southward before splitting into two lines just south of Jackson.

Along the way, the counties the railway travels through calculate a utility tax on the railroad that is given in the form of a statement to cities and towns within its borders. Those statements are then sent to the railroad every year for payment.

But a recently discovered accounting error reveals Glendora, one of the small villages Canadian National has tracks through, hasn’t received a utility tax statement for the railroad as far back as officials there can find records.

Village Mayor Johnny B. Thomas calculates that with interest, the railroad owes the village up to $833,000 in back taxes. That’s more than eight times the yearly budget of the village, which is about $100,000.

Tallahatchie County Tax Assessor Dorothy Martin said she discovered the utility accounting error in 2015 after overhearing a conversation from the former tax assessor. She notified the mayor when she found out.

Legal negotiations are now playing out between the village and the railroad. Canadian National offered to pay the village $300,000, but Thomas said he told the company he won’t settle for anything less than $500,000.

Calls to Canadian National weren’t immediately returned.

Thomas said the village could use every penny it gets from the almost half-century long accounting error.

“We’re what you call a low-wealth area — 99.9 percent of the community is impoverished. The railroad travels through this community more than 20 times per day. Yet it hasn’t paid its taxes,” Thomas said. “It has left the community devastated.”


IN THE PHOTO: Glendora Mayor Johnny B. Thomas (Sun-Sentinel file photo)