Williamstown Turns Down Ark Encounter Request for Lower Safety Tax

Jul 19, 2017

The City of Williamstown has rejected the latest request by the Ark Encounter theme park to reduce the amount of a new “safety assessment fee.”

Earlier this year, the city imposed a per-ticket charge of 50 cents to cover the cost of increased police and fire services.

Meeting in executive session Tuesday night, the city’s council turned down a second proposal from the Ark Encounter that would cap the fee at an annual amount below the $700,000 the city says it needs.

Williamstown Mayor Rick Skinner says the 50 cents to cover the cost of increased police and fire services is more than reasonable. “It’s there to protect that tourist, so I’m thinking that tourist is going to pay for the fact that we have more police and more firefighters and more EMS on staff.”

Meanwhile Williamstown officials are concerned about a move by the Ark Encounter’s parent company to make the attraction a non-profit.

The Lexington Herald-Leader this week reported that the organization sold its main parcel of land to a non-profit affiliate for a total of ten dollars. Mayor Skinner says he’s not sure why they did that. “ We're afraid it’s to get out of the safety assessment fee and maybe eventually just to ask to be tax exempt from paying property taxes.”

Officials with the Ark Encounter say they are willing to contribute what they call their “fair share” to the safety fund and seek an equitable remedy for the city.