Answers in Genesis famously was given $43 million in tax breaks by the state of Kentucky a few years ago, but according to a local news site in that state those breaks have expired and they have had to reapply for them with a dramatically scaled-down project.
Ark Encounter’s original tax incentive application for potentially $43 million was approved by a Tourism board in May of 2011. This gave them three years to start construction, and whatever Ark Encounter spent on construction, they would be eligible for up to 25 percent of that amount once the park opened in rebates, assuming that the project was an economic success and passed benchmarks. However, that three year period ended this month, and Ark Encounter construction has not yet started, which would mean that they are not eligible for any tax incentives unless they amended or resubmitted an application. And in March, that’s exactly what they did.
Tourism Cabinet spokesman Gil Lawson tells LEO that on March 28, Ark Encounter representatives withdrew their original application for a $172 million project and resubmitted a new application for a dramatically scaled back $73 million project. If this application is approved — and if Ark Encounter is actually built and meets economic benchmarks — they would only be eligible for a maximum of $18.25 million in tax incentives.But that remains a big “if.” Lawson notes that not all applications for tax incentives make their way to the Tourism board for a vote, and just because an application makes its way to the board doesn’t mean that it will be approved. Lawson says that Ark Encounter’s new application is currently being reviewed by the Tourism Cabinet, and it is still far from being scheduled for a vote. Sometimes this process takes a long time (see: Kentucky Kingdom) and sometimes it happens in record speed (see: Ark Encounter from December of 2010 to May of 2011).
During Ark Encounter’s first inception, Gov. Besehar put his full weight behind it, pushing the project through easily with very little oversight, though much humiliation for the state of Kentucky (see: Dinosaurs on a goddamned boat). LEO asked a Beshear spokesman this afternoon if the governor plans to fully support Ark Encounter’s new application like he did in late-2010 and early-2011, or if he would take another strategy. He said he would give us an answer as soon as he could, and we’ll update this story once that comes to us.
Let’s hope they get denied the second time around.