In a sneaky move that could rob Kentucky’s Williamstown and Grant County of much-needed revenue, Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter has flogged its main parcel of land for $10 to its non-profit affiliate, Crosswater Canyon.
The move followed a decision by Williamstown not to exempt Ham’s biblical theme park from paying a safety fee that would fund necessary emergency services for the city.
The Lexington Herald Leader reports:
On June 29, Williamstown City Attorney Jeffrey Shipp sent a letter to the Biblical amusement park Ark Encounter, rejecting their request to be exempted from a new safety tax because they are a religious organization.
Shipp said it was clear that Ark Encounter is a for-profit entity, which is how it has been listed with the Secretary of State’s office since 2011.
But the day before, Ark Encounter LLC sold the land on which the ark stands … to itself.
Now some are worried Ark Encounter’s maneuver is a precursor to declaring itself exempt from all taxes, including property taxes that help fund Grant County schools.
Previously the park has been classified as a for-profit organisation, and received numerous and lucrative tax breaks as a for-profit organization. By attempting the reclassification, the Ark Park officials hope to have the best of both worlds, enjoying the tax breaks given to the organization as a for-profit organization, and now trying to claim tax-exemption as a religious organization.
Commenting on the nefarious machinations of the Ark Encounter organization, Williamstown City Councilperson Kim Crupper said:
I believe this is the first step. The impact would be far larger than just Williamstown.
The once hopeful and favourable relationship between the locals and Ark Park officials began souring after financial promises made by Ken Ham and his organisation to the city and county failed to materialise.
Hat tip: Angela_K and BarrieJohn