We know you’re familiar with the background for this because the last time we wrote about it was yesterday — see Hambo Reverses the Ark Transfer.
Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else, had apparently yielded to reality — something creationists don’t like to do. In order to preserve a potential sales tax kick-back of $18 million from the state of Kentucky, the land on which Hambo’s replica of Noah’s Ark sits was transferred back to its original owner, Ark Encounter LLC, a for-profit corporation. It had briefly been transferred to Crosswater Canyon, it’s not-for-profit corporate parent.
The ark’s brief ownership excursion was an effort to evade the safety tax of fifty cents imposed by the city of Williamstown for every admission ticket sold by Ark Encounter, because the city’s safety tax doesn’t apply to non-profit entities; but the threat of losing the state’s sales tax kick-back was too much for ol’ Hambo, so he transferred the ark back to where it had been.
Of course, that left the issue of the city’s ticket tax. Apparently that’s been resolved too. The Lexington Herald-Leader of Lexington, Kentucky has this headline: After months of disagreement, Noah’s Ark operators say they will pay safety tax. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
The operators of a Noah’s Ark theme park in Grant County say they will pay Williamstown’s safety tax even though they disagree with it, and in fact, they have been collecting 50 cents on every ticket sold since July 1.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We imagine ol’ Hambo is red in the face, foaming at the mouth, and rolling around chewing the carpet. How dare those government clerks impose taxes on him? He’s on a mission to save us from the godless lie of evolution and millions of years, so he shouldn’t have to pay for anything. This is an outrage!
The newspaper says:
In April, Williamstown City Council members imposed the tax on the city’s three entertainment venues, of which Ark Encounter is by far the largest. Ark Encounter officials balked, saying they had not been warned about their assessment, which would raise about $700,000 a year to pay for more emergency services to serve the venue. In further discussions, they offered to cap the fee at $350,000, then $500,000. They also asked for an exemption from the tax on religious grounds, which the city refused.
Yes, we remember. The Lexington Herald-Leader gives us some more background. You know this stuff, but it’s fun to see it all in one story:
At that point, the Ark operators sold their main parcel of land to their non-profit affiliate for $10. It’s currently valued at $48 million, sparking fears in Williamstown that as a non-profit, Ark operators would try to exempt themselves from all property taxes.
At that moment — a brief moment — ol’ Hambo thought he was very slick. However:
That’s when the state Tourism Cabinet stepped in, saying that a separate sales tax rebate of up to $18 million would be suspended because the transfer had breached the agreement with the state. On Friday, the land was transferred back to Ark Encounter LLC, a for-profit organization.
Oh, how embarrassing! We’ll skip most of the rest, including a self-serving statement from Ark co-founder Mark Looy, but this is interesting:
Tourism officials had no comment on whether the sales tax rebate would now move forward.
So there you are. The city of Williamstown will collect their ticket tax, and Hambo will probably get his sales tax kick-back. As we pointed out before, the state’s sales tax is 6%, so that’s $2.40 for a $40 adult ticket. Hambo’s kick-back is 25% of the sales tax, or $.60 per adult ticket. That’s pretty much the same as the city’s safety tax, so Hambo needs the sales tax kick-back to pay for the ticket tax — unless he adds it to the price of a ticket — which is already $40 plus $2.40 sales tax. When you add the city’s $.50 safety tax, the total cost of an adult ticket is $42.90. No problem– his drooling customers will pay for it. But they may not return for additional visits, so this isn’t good for future business.
Hambo tried to have it both ways, but he ended up outsmarting himself. That’s okay. He still has the rainbow. They can’t take that away from him.
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