Ken Ham’s Ark Park plays dirty to avoid paying taxes, essentially selling Ark Encounter to itself for $10 to cheat the city out of tax revenue.
In a deplorable move, Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter Biblical theme park is playing a financial shell game with the city of Williamstown in order to avoid 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 its main parcel of land — the one with the life-size Noah’s Ark — for $10 to their non-profit affiliate, Crosswater Canyon. Although the property is worth $48 million according to the Grant County Property Valuation Administrator, the deed says its value is only $18.5 million.
The Lexington Herald Leader continues:
… 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.
In other words, Ken Ham and his cronies sold Ark Encounter back to themselves for $10 in order to avoid paying taxes; because, as a result of the sale, they could reclassify the park as a religious organization.
Previously the park has been classified as a for-profit organization, 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 favorable relationship between the locals and Ark Park officials recently soured after financial promises made by Ken Ham and his organization to the city and county failed to materialize.
Last month, a bitter Ken Ham blamed atheists and the secular media for the perceived financial failure of his Ark Park. In a blog post to his Answers in Genesis website, Ham refused to take responsibility for his own failure, and refused to take responsibility for his broken financial promises to the citizens and business community of Grant County, Kentucky.
Williamstown Mayor Rick Skinner said losing the expected property tax revenue would hurt the city, county, and most of all, schools, noting:
It would be a huge hit to the schools.
The Lexington Herald Leader reports city officials believe a lawsuit is “imminent”:
The council is scheduled to meet Tuesday night with Ark officials to continue talking about their differences, but Crupper and Mayor Rick Skinner said they think a lawsuit is imminent.
Bottom line: Ken Ham’s Ark Park is playing dirty to avoid paying taxes; and, as one might expect, it is the citizens of the city of Williamstown and Grant County that will suffer.