Floundering Ark Encounter seeks to avoid new safety tax
Ken Ham’s $100-million white dinosaur, the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky, says it has been ‘blindsided’ by a recently implemented safety assessment tax introduced to upgrade emergency response equipment in the city.
Ark Encounter bigwigs, according to this report, are basically saying: “You can’t tax us because we’re a religious organisation”, and are demanding that it be exempt from the tax – one that does not apply to non-profit, religious, and charitable events and organisations.
But Williamstown officials are saying that’s bollocks because the Ark Encounter is a for-profit business. Williamstown Mayor Rick Skinner, above, said:
We’ve done our research … and everything that we have found is that they are a for-profit company.
A letter sent to Williamstown officials by John E Pence, Secretary General for Answers in Genesis, insists that the Ark Encounter was organised exclusively for religious purposes, and is solely owned and operated by Crosswater Canyon, a Kentucky non-profit corporation which is recognised as a tax-exempt religious organization and public charity. The letter says:
Both Ark Encounter and Crosswater Canyon are clearly religious organizations. The Ark Encounter project was designed to factually present the biblical and historical truths of the Bible, including the biblical accounts of Noah and the Ark, the message of salvation through Jesus Christ, and other biblical truths revealed in Scripture, through the Ark’s exhibits and guest experiences.
Crosswater Canyon was organized exclusively to support the religious mission and purposes of Answers in Genesis, and to own and manage the Ark Encounter for Answers in Genesis
Answers in Genesis co-founder and Chief Communications Officer Mark Loony … er … Looy, above, said that visitors to the Ark Encounter clearly recognise it as a religiously run attraction with a religious purpose, and that the organisation filed the appeal because they feel the business should be exempt.
We simply applied for the exemption that is allowed under the specific wording of the safety assessment fee ordinance as it was adopted, as you would expect other exempted organizations to do.
Skinner and the other Williamstown City Council members voiced their disagreement with the exemption request. City Attorney Jeff Shipp said the organisation’s corporate filings in Missouri indicate that they are a for-profit corporation and that he would craft a formal response to the appeal sometime in the coming week.
The tax collects a 50-cent charge on tickets in admission-based businesses within Williamstown, and currently affects only three businesses: the Ark Encounter, Williamstown Family Fun Park and Main Street Gardens.
In April, the Ark Encounter proprietors said they were “blindsided” by the tax and that they might consider raising ticket prices.
When asked what the organisation planned to do should their exemption request be denied, Looy said:
We are still considering our options.
Answers in Genesis Co-Founder Mike Zovath met with Skinner on June 27 to discuss solutions to the issue, but no agreement was reached.
Even if AiG wins this concession, it still has a long way to go to stay afloat. So far it’s proving to be a colossal failure, and Ken Ham, above, is blaming secular naysayers. This from a recent AiG blog post:
Recently, a number of articles in the mainstream media, on blogs, and on well-known secularist group websites have attempted to spread propaganda to brainwash the public into thinking our Ark Encounter attraction is a dismal failure. Sadly, they are influencing business investors and others in such a negative way that they may prevent Grant County, Kentucky, from achieving the economic recovery that its officials and residents have been seeking …
Why so many lies and misinformation? Simply because we are in a spiritual battle, and the intolerant secularists are so upset with such world-class attraction like the Ark (and Creation Museum) that publicly proclaim a Christian message. They will resort to whatever tactics they deem necessary to try to malign the attractions.
That’s not quite true. Why, just a few months ago The Humanist praised this ship of fools:
The whole experience is impressive as well as aesthetically appealing. It would be hard to find another place where pseudoscience is packaged with such glittering polish on such a colossal scale.
Despite being clearly pissed off, Ham is grasping at an every-cloud-has-a-silver-lining straw:
Of course, negative reporting and commentary result in more advertising for our facilities! As I witness all this opposition and see such opposition backfiring, I am reminded again of what Joseph declared and how it applies to us today: ‘As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.’ (Genesis 50:20).
A tip to Ham: don’t allow people to video your ark. If folk can get a virtual tour of it on YouTube, they’re sure as hell ain’t gonna fork out $40.00 for a ticket to visit the thing – even if it does have “biblical” security cameras and air conditioning.