Sunday, July 16, 2017

Ark Encounter: Profit or Non-Profit?

The Panda's Thumb is reporting yet another kerfuffle involving the Ark Encounter, the Town of Williamstown, and finances. Matt Young writes:
According to press reports in the Grant County News and the Lexington Herald Leader, the management of the Ark Park is resisting efforts by the City of Williamstown to collect a safety fee that will be used to upgrade police and fire protection because of Williamstown’s increased needs as a result of the Ark Park.

Ark Encounter, which owns the Ark Park, is a for-profit corporation and arguably should be subject to the tax. It is, however, owned by a nonprofit corporation, Crosswater Canyon. Mark Looy of Answers in Genesis has previously admitted that Ark Encounter is a for-profit corporation, but now he argues that they should be exempt from the tax because – you guessed it – Ark Encounter is owned by a nonprofit.

The Williamstown City Council, anticipating a possible lawsuit, has gone into executive session. According to an informant of ours, Williamstown, which was promised untold wealth if it permitted the Ark “replica” to be built there, barely has a coffee shop downtown, let alone the restaurants and hotels which were supposed to provide jobs and revenue. If you need gasoline or a tattoo, our informant implies, Williamstown is the place to go.
There may be more to this story than meets the eye but, on the surface, it seems as if the good Mr. Ham is jettisoning his integrity in favor of meagre profits. All reports are that attendance is nowhere near the estimated 2 million visitors for the year. It is more like 1.4 million and the nearby towns are seeing none of the expected revenue from it.  What a debacle.  It is hard to feel too much sympathy for the town of Williamstown because they bent over backward and made some very questionable decisions to get the park.

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