As you know, ol’ Hambo is the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, , famed for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG), and for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.
Now we have an update, which we found at the website of NBC television station WLWT in Cincinnati, Ohio, not far from ol’ Hambo’s operations across the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky. Their ungrammatical headline is: Grant [County] ark park get preliminary approval for tax rebates. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
A state tourism board gave preliminary approval on Tuesday for up to $18 million in tax rebates for a proposed full-sized replica of the massive ark as described in the book of Genesis. … If the rebates are approved, the project’s owners – Crosswater canyon, a nonprofit subsidiary of Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis ministry – would receive up to 25 percent of the $73 million anticipated cost of the project. The owners would get that money over 10 years only after the ark is built and open to the public.
Preliminary approval! That means ol’ Hambo can start construction. The angels in heaven must be singing. Then we’re told:
Project co-founder Mike Zovath said organizers plan to use the rebates to invest in more attractions, including a replica of the Tower of Babel and a walled-city modeled after Biblical times – except it would include modern restaurants and shops that Zovath compared to “Downtown Disney.”
That makes sense. If they don’t spend the money on more attractions, they might have to use it to pay off their bondholders. Let’s read on:
The proposed state support for a religious theme park has drawn the ire of groups like Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. “We believe that the park is clearly a sectarian endeavor and should be ineligible from any tax incentives form the state,” spokeswoman Sarah Jones said.
Your Curmudgeon has been thinking about this issue. States don’t tax churches, so they can’t give them any more tax breaks, but a bible-based theme park generates sales taxes. Why should it be treated differently from any other tourist attraction?
Also, states routinely offer tax incentives and tax holidays to encourage industrial development. Obviously, Hambo’s activities don’t come close to being a computer factory or an auto assembly plant, but maybe a replica of Noah’s Ark is the only kind of “industry” that Kentucky can expect, or maybe it’s what they want to encourage. It’s Kentucky’s decision. Regardless of what we think of creationism, the sales tax kickback doesn’t seem improper.
The news article continues:
However, the criticisms have been ineffective. The project has the support of the state’s Democratic governor. And Keith Williams, chairman of the board that gave preliminary approval to the deal on Tuesday, said the board strictly looks at a project’s estimated economic impact on the state’s tourism industry.
Aside from the Kentucky Derby, what else does Kentucky have to attract tourists? Here’s more:
Kentucky’s state government could make money off the deal. If the project attracts enough tourists, the state could collect more than $18 million in sales taxes. That’s one of the things an independent consultant will review over the next several weeks before making a recommendation to the tourism board.
They’ll probably give it the final approval. Here’s one more excerpt:
Construction is scheduled to begin this year, with several Amish builders already committed to build the Ark’s frame. It is scheduled to open by the summer of 2016. Tickets will cost $33 for adults.
Only $33? That’s a real bargain! But if you plan to go, we suggest that you wear boots. The drool is going to be everywhere, and it’ll be deep.
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