We’ve been reporting on the tax troubles of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia, starting back in April with City Wants To Tax Ken Ham’s Ticket Sales, and ending the day before yesterday with Ken Ham Caves on the Ticket Tax.
Now, at last, ol’ Hambo is giving us his side of the story. It’s Dispelling Ark Encounter Myths in the News, which appears at the website of his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG). Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
There has been an enormous amount of misinformation, misunderstanding, and outright untruths spread by many media, bloggers, and others in regard to the Ark Encounter — specifically, the recent issue concerning the safety tax imposed by the Williamstown city council.
He’s not referring to us, of course. Your Curmudgeon always tries to be fair to ol’ Hambo. That’s because he’s the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. He’s famed for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum, and for building Ark Encounter, which he says is an exact replica of Noah’s Ark. Hambo says:
The Ark Encounter has never stated we would not pay a safety tax. In communicating frequently with the city over the months, we even proposed that a fee be capped at a half million dollars per year, a reasonable amount.
We’ve mentioned that, but the city wouldn’t negotiate. Hambo tells us:
We wish to point out, too, that when it comes to medical emergency calls, for which the local EMT provider responds, there is a user fee that is charged to people’s personal insurance for that cost. Yet, we still offered to pay up to $500,000 a year into the safety fund, which the city rejected.
The city needs ambulances and trained emergency medical personnel. They have to pay for that, and we doubt that they can just sit back and hope for insurance companies to reimburse them for everything. Hambo continues:
As it filed for an exemption as a religious non-profit as permitted in the ordinance, the Ark was not doing so to avoid paying its fair share, as some reporters have suggested.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We wrote about that in Hambo’s Ticket Tax Battle Continues. Despite the fact that Ark Encounter is a for-profit corporation, they wanted to be exempt from the tax because of their religious message. But Hambo said: “The Ark Encounter has never stated we would not pay a safety tax.” And Hambo is an honorable man.
When that ploy failed, and negotiations were at a standoff, Hambo transferred the property to Ark Encounter’s non-profit parent corporation. That’s because the city’s tax doesn’t apply to non-profit, religious, or charitable events and organizations — see Ken Ham’s Latest Tax Maneuver. For some reason, Hambo doesn’t mention that, but as he said earlier: “The Ark Encounter has never stated we would not pay a safety tax.” And Hambo is an honorable man. Let’s read on:
We are thankful that even with the enormous number of people who have visited the Ark from around the world, calls for emergency services — shared by both Williamstown and Dry Ridge — have been relatively small. On average for the year, it’s been about 2 calls per week, with the majority being in the busiest 6 months of our operation.
Obviously, during the busy summer months there are more than 2 emergency calls a week. It’s nice that Hambo averages it out over the year to 2 calls per week, but the city has to be equipped and staffed to handle the peak demand. Another excerpt:
It’s a complex matter that many people find difficult to understand, but the Ark Encounter operates as a non-profit because it is wholly owned by a non-profit. And it is a religious organization. The Ark Encounter is owned ultimately by Answers in Genesis.
Huh? Ark Encounter is a for-profit corporation because they deemed that best for raising money from the sale of bonds, and also because it was helpful in qualifying for the state’s sales tax kick-back. The fact that Ark Encounter is owned by a non-profit corporation is irrelevant. Churches can own profit-making corporations, and they aren’t exempt from anything because of who owns them. Here’s more:
There has been much false speculation about this matter, but there were no ulterior motives on our part at all. In fact, 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 the deed has been recorded.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! No ulterior motives! When negotiations with the city of Williamstown failed, Ark Encounter sold its main parcel of land — the one with the life-size Noah’s Ark — for $10 to their non-profit parent company, Crosswater Canyon. They never said they wouldn’t pay the city’s tax. They didn’t have to. But when Kentucky state officials suspended the $18 million sales tax kick-back, Hambo quickly reversed that transaction. See Hambo Reverses the Ark Transfer.
That’s all there is to Hambo’s explanation of things. The rest of his post is about how much economic benefit his activities have brought to the area. He finishes with this:
I warn readers that much of the media (and many bloggers and secular groups) have not represented the safety-tax situation accurately, including failing to report our willingness to pay into the safety fund — with a suggested reasonable cap of a half million dollars a year. Their misrepresentations and, yes, lies, created a tempest in a teapot. I encourage people not to jump to conclusions based on media distortions, plus they are not privy to all the internal evidence.
So there you are, dear reader. Ponder Hambo’s words carefully before you jump to conclusions based on false reporting.
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