Dalton officials reviewing invoices for work on Crescent City train car

Matt Hamilton/Daily Citizen-News

City of Dalton officials say they are looking into more than $20,000 in invoices they have received for work done on the historic Crescent City train car almost three years ago.

DALTON, Ga. — City of Dalton officials say they are trying to verify two invoices totaling more than $20,000 for work done almost three years ago on the historic Crescent City train car.

"Mid America Railcar Leasing LLC performed work on the Crescent City train car between February and April 2017," said city spokesman Bruce Frazier. "The work invoiced consisted of approximately 1,285 hours toward refurbishment of light fixtures, sub-flooring, plumbing and HVAC (heating and air conditioning) work, electrical work and wiring, hardware installation and reimbursement of travel expenses. Their invoices total $82,371.38. The city has paid $59,756.85 of that invoiced amount."

Officials with Mid America, which is based in Greenwood, Indiana, did not immediately return an email message and could not be reached by phone on Wednesday.

Frazier said the two invoices were brought to the city's attention by "a broker" in October of last year and they have no records of receiving them before that.

"The city contacted Kathryn Sellers, who was coordinating with the contractors during the project, and she was able to verify for us that the work had been performed, but she told us that there was some disagreement about the accuracy of the last two invoices ... " he said.

Frazier said officials are still reviewing those two invoices.

Built in 1949, the Crescent City was originally a luxury passenger car for Southern Railway VIPs in its day. The car was part of the Southern Crescent passenger service that ran from New York City to New Orleans. After passenger service ended in the early 1970s, the car was brought to Dalton and used for many years as office space. Jonathan Caylor and Mark Hannah donated it to the city in 2011 and later that year it was moved to its current location next to the freight depot at 305 S. Depot St.

At the time, Sellers headed up a group called Friends of the Crescent City that had a vision for the train car as a center for education and tourism. The city later asked the Dalton Convention & Visitors Bureau to take over management of the Crescent City, but Sellers continued to spearhead the project.

"They (Mid America) were working on the train car, and we told them we were out of money," Sellers said. "They said they would prefer to finish the work they were doing and would not charge us."

Sellers said the agreement was verbal and not in writing.

Sellers said she was surprised that the city did not receive the invoices until October.

Mayor David Pennington said he is trying to find out more about the situation with the invoices.

"I was only sworn in on Monday," said Pennington, who had served previously as mayor from 2008-14. "I don't have the answers yet. But from what I can tell there weren't many controls over that operation. But we aren't going to pay anything until we are convinced we owe it."

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