Lawsuit: Ark Encounter Didn’t Pay Its Fair Share of Taxes, Hurting Local Schools August 24, 2019

Lawsuit: Ark Encounter Didn’t Pay Its Fair Share of Taxes, Hurting Local Schools

There’s a local battle brewing in Grant County, Kentucky between Ark Encounter, the Grant County Board of Education, and the local government.

In a lawsuit filed by the Grant County Board of Education last month, the local Property Valuation Administration said Ark Encounter was worth just over $46 million in 2017. That amount dictated how much money the parent company of Answers in Genesis had to pay in taxes — some of which which would ultimately go to the local schools.

But the Board of Education said that $46 million was waaaaaaay lower than it should have been. In fact, they said, the Ark had a fair market value of $130 million.

They calculated that using a mix of the Creationists’ stated development costs in the years before the Ark opened ($72 million), a capital investment amount stated by the Ark’s attorney in a document submitted to the state’s Tourism Development Finance Authority ($90 million), and the $30-40 million in ticket sales based on the Williamstown Safety Assessment Fee (which is how we know the Ark’s monthly attendance). Throw in the cost of the land its on ($10 million) and they arrived at the roughly $130 million sum.

The Grant County News quotes from the lawsuit (neither the article nor the lawsuit is online):

“If the school board was successful [in this lawsuit], taxes owed to the school board for the year 2017 would have amounted to approximately $746,200,” the lawsuit stated. “The school board thus contended it was suffering a loss of approximately $470,288.”

In other words, the Board of Education said Ark Encounter itself said the place was worth more than the Property Valuation Administration said it was, so why are we being shortchanged?

The Board of Education’s challenge was initially denied, but they appealed the decision to the Kentucky Claims Commission (formerly the Board of Tax Appeals). Unfortunately, the Commission said the School Board wasn’t a taxpayer but rather a recipient of taxes… therefore they had no business challenging the assessment.

The Board of Education appealed that decision, too.

“How can a school district, suffering hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, not be any “persons aggrieved’,” the school board’s lawsuit stated.

The local government and Ark Encounter are obviously trying to end this lawsuit before it gets any further, but the School Board is still pushing forward with another lawsuit.

Either way, this is just another piece of evidence showing that the Ark has hurt the community. It hasn’t been good at providing jobs for residents, it hasn’t improved tourism commensurate to the money it took from the region, and it has constantly fought against paying its fair share in taxes.

We knew Creationism was bad, but Creationists are proving to be just as awful.

(via Panda’s Thumb. Thanks to Dan for the link)

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