Williamstown officials are expecting a lawsuit from the Biblical amusement park Ark Encounter over a new safety tax created to raise money for emergency services, the Grant County News reported.
The Williamstown City Council went into executive session Monday to discuss pending litigation, the newspaper said. Answers in Genesis, the parent company that owns Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum, had requested an exemption from the tax. But on June 29, Williamstown city attorney Jeff Shipp wrote a letter to AIG rejecting the request, asserting that Ark Encounter is a for-profit entity.
The newspaper reported that Ark Encounter’s corporate filings list it as for-profit.
“None of us can pick or choose the obligations we wish to obey that benefit us or deny those obligations that may impose a small burden to benefit the greater good. In the end, it is the price we pay to live and enjoy a civilized and moral society,” Shipp wrote. “Ark Encounter is a for-profit limited-liability company entity that allowed, or permitted, it to be eligible for various development incentives that would not have been available with a nonprofit status ... The city looks forward to continuing to work and cooperate with the Ark Encounter in the future, while balancing the health, safety and welfare of the residents, businesses and visitors of the city of Williamstown, Kentucky.”
AIG officials have said that Ark Encounter should be exempt from the tax because it is a religious attraction and is owned by Crosswater Canyon, a nonprofit entity. Earlier, they had said they felt “blindsided” by the city’s decision.
“We seek to pay our fair share when it comes to a safety fee assessment recently instituted by the city of Williamstown,” AIG co-founder Mark Looy told the Grant County News. “We have conveyed that sincere sentiment to Williamstown’s leadership.”
The tax would collect 50 cents for every ticket sold. Ticket prices are $40 for adults and $28 for children.
The $100 million theme park opened last July with what creators say is a life-size depiction of the boat that Noah and his family would have traveled on during a biblical flood, including dinosaurs that they claim existed at the time.
Ark officials have estimated that as many as 1 million visitors could visit the amusement park, but there are no independent verifications of that number. The Ark was touted as an economic engine for Williamstown, but merchants in that town have said that they have not yet seen those effects.