Having seen a budget deficit of nearly $100 million last year despite having less than 40,000 residents, the New Jersey Senate has introduced a bill that would expand New Jersey’s oversight of the iconic seaside gambling town, Atlantic City.
Bill would severely limit efforts by Atlantic City to dig itself out of its hole
In a bipartisan bill introduced in the senate by two Democratic and a Republican, Senator Paul Sarlo said of the legislation, “This takes away the majority of the powers from the local governing body.
The bill, not unexpectedly is opposed by both the Mayor of Atlantic City and Atlantic City’s City council, in another show of bipartisanship. Both believe that the bill is unnecessary as Atlantic City has been subject to a state monitor since 2010 and given the closures of four casinos and the expected loss of revenue in 2015, Atlantic City was assigned an emergency manager last year to make day-to-day financial decisions.
Atlantic City mayor responds
Republican AC Mayor Don Guardian following a unity press conference with the Democrat controlled City Council said on Wednesday, “It took us 30 years to get into this mess, you gotta give us a few years to dig ourselves out.”
Guardian insists the city is nowhere near bankrupt, but after peaking in gambling revenue in 2006, it’s been in steady decline ever since. In 2006, over $5 billion was taken in by casinos, last year it was just half of that number. Atlantic City has struggled with the opening of casinos in both New York and Pennsylvania.
“If they are allowed to do this in Atlantic City, they will be allowed to do it anywhere,” Guardian said of the takeover. “It’s a terrible precedent. The people of New Jersey elect the state legislature to run the state, not take over its cities.”
In his defense, Mayor Guardian has cut the city’s workforce by 28% in his two years as mayor as well as bringing down the axe on over $25 million in spending. In the Senate’s defense AC has spending upwards of $250 million which is a bit absurd given its population of less than 40,000.
A spokesperson for Rep. Governor Chris Christie, who is currently campaigning out of state for the Republican presidential nomination, declined to comment on the bill.