Kentucky taxpayers are still paying the price for the Ark Encounter
It seems the tax woes with Ken Ham are not yet over. After losing his $18 million dollar tax incentive through the Kentucky Tourism Board for discriminatory hiring practices, it seems Ham and Ark Encounter officials are still using the City to scam taxpayers out of money.
Through a program called TIF, or Tax Incentive Financing, the Ark Encounter is receiving a $62 million bond from the City of Williamstown, Kentucky.
This grant was recently reported on by the Friendly Atheist’s Tracy Moody who attended a Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce meeting where Ham along with his Answers in Genesis board presented the latest news and projections for the Ark Encounter.
Though, I highlighted the need to remove this grant in 2014, it seems the city and state are still moving forward with it.
Moody noted that at the event Ham not only touted the false attendance numbers as part of what she called an “hour-long spiel that could best be described as an Ark Park pep rally,” but he also was encouraging people with the money to snatch up commercial land in the nearby quickly.
But what does the bond mean for Kentucky taxpayers?
Moody reports that a 2012 “Memorandum of Agreement (begins on page 55) approving $62 million in funding for Ark Encounter, LLC,” says that “over a 30-year period, 75% of Ark Encounter’s real estate taxes would go toward repayment of the interest-free TIF. So instead of that money going to the city (and the citizens), it’ll be used to repay those bonds.”That’s right, 75 percent of the real estate taxes to be paid by the Ark Encounter will go back to paying off a bond instead of going into the schools or roads. Nevermind the failing healthcare system in the state, which will not participate fully in the medicare expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
Nope, instead, taxpayers are going to lose out on that money so a man can build a giant landlocked boat that celebrates a genocidal fairytale.
Moody also found in the documents:
According to Section VIII of the Memorandum of Agreement, in addition to the $62 million, the city and county agreed to other incentives (courtesy of local taxpayers):
$175,000 would be given to Ark Encounter to reimburse the amount they felt the property was overvalued.
$19,000 would go to Ark Encounter’s real estate agent, representing 2% of the total purchase price of the land.
98 acres of Grant County land would be sold to Ark Encounter for $1 (yes, one dollar).
So much for that whole claim by Ham that no taxpayer would unwillingly help fund his project.
As we await the court’s decision on the tax incentive and wait to see what the Governor-elect does when he takes office, we must now begin to pressure the City of Williamstown and the state government to end all taxpayer money being funneled into this clearly religious product.