The following statement from Mark Looy, CCO of Answers in Genesis/Ark Encounter, was distributed to the media today about the Ark Encounter and the safety tax imposed on it by Williamstown, the city in Northern Kentucky where the Ark is located.
Williamstown, Kentucky, July 25, 2017
Unfortunately, much misinformation and many falsehoods have been disseminated by reporters and bloggers about the Ark Encounter and its relationship with the Williamstown city council and a safety tax the council imposed on the Ark.
The Ark has never stated it would not pay into the fund.>
In frequent discussions with the city over the last three months, Ark Encounter leadership had proposed that the fee be capped, and recently suggested a maximum of a half million dollars per year. Ark representatives made it clear that it had concerns about the fairness of the city ordinance, for it makes the Ark Encounter bear almost the entire load for the increased funding to cover Williamstown’s budget for police, fire, and EMS. This is a city of 4,000 residents.
Ark Encounter leadership has agreed to meet the requirement of the ordinance. Since July 1, the Ark has been adding 50 cents to each ticket purchase, to meet the requirement of the ordinance. Ark officials have tried to negotiate what they believed was a fair approach, rather than an open-ended one, to the safety tax, and still meet the city’s needs.
The filing for an exemption as a religious non-profit (as permitted in the ordinance), was done in an attempt to get the city to change the wording as it currently stands, which would exempt the Ark Encounter. It was not to avoid paying its fair share, as some articles have suggested.
The Ark was offering to pay up to $500,000 a year into the safety fund. The city rejected the offer.
To date, more than one million guests have visited the Ark, yet thankfully, calls for emergency services—to both Williamstown and Dry Ridge—have been few in number, averaging about 2 per week. It should also be noted that a user fee is often charged to an individual’s personal insurance for the cost of local medical emergency services’ response to the Ark.
There has been much false speculation about the matter over a deed. The Ark Encounter, LLC, operates as a non-profit because it is wholly owned by a non-profit (the LLC is a pass-through entity for tax purposes), which is in turn owned by non-profit Answers in Genesis. To resolve any issues over the recent change in title for the Ark Encounter property, the property has been conveyed back to the Ark Encounter, LLC, and that deed has been recorded.
Grant County has benefitted enormously from Ark tourism. In Dry Ridge, many hotels, restaurants, and other tourist-related businesses are flourishing. In a spirit of cooperation, we encourage the city of Williamstown to work with more hotel developers and restaurant brands to build in the area. For its part, when Ark staff attend various civic functions, they frequently encourage entrepreneurs to build in Williamstown.
Summary: The safety-tax matter has been highly misrepresented. The Ark has always been willing to pay into the safety fund, suggesting a yearly cap of a half million dollars per year.
–Mark Looy, CCO, Answers in Genesis/Ark Encounter
Please join us in continuing to pray for the Ark Encounter. Despite all the misrepresentation by the media and secular bloggers, thousands of people daily visit and hear the truth of God’s Word and the gospel. Please pray that people will have an encounter with God’s Word and the Lord Jesus at this attraction.
Plan your visit at ArkEncounter.com.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,