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Railroad contract up for final vote

Friday, January 7, 2011

Other than a tax agreement request for a Lewisburg-based manufacturer, city councilmen face what would otherwise appear to be a routine agenda for its meeting Tuesday when another step is to be completed on another manufacturer's request.

Brother's Fine Foods production of salsa relies on shipments of tomatoes and its owner reports he can become more profitable if the tomatoes come here by train instead of truck. As a result, an agreement is being hammered out by city officials and the CSX Railroad.

A third and final vote on the contract is scheduled for the session set to start at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 131 E. Church St.

As with other aspects of the centuries-old transportation system, the contract with the city has its eccentricities. Technically, the city is leasing the rails, rock and foundation of the tracks that are on city-owned property, City Treasurer Connie Edde explained.

"The lease is stated to be $344 annually," Edde said of the payment Lewisburg would make to CSX.

The tracks' value is that they are connected to the rest of the CSX rail spur that is connected to the rest of the system of tracks.

The dollar amount of the rent is contingent upon the amount of usage for the tracks.

"They've given different projections," Edde said.

Still, it appears that Brother's Fine Foods, and the prospect of other traffic, would generate enough revenue so the minimum lease payment would keep the lease in effect, she explained.

Furthermore, "It was our understanding that if it doesn't pan out, then $344 is the maximum we could be charged," Edde said. "That's our understanding."

Also set for consideration on Tuesday:

* Disposal of junk furniture and other objects being discarded by residents. Allied Waste won't collect such refuse. City public works employees face that task.

* A concluding vote on stormwater regulations. The city's code is being adjusted to comply with state and federal rules. Lewisburg has been facing state orders for compliance with the Clean Water Act of 1972 and its amendments.

Over the years, application of that law, however, has come under different interpretations.

"It's going to change at the first of next year because TDEC (the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation) is evolving," Edde said. "We want this approved to be in compliance now."