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Atlantic City Has About 130 Days To Avoid Being Taken Over

Atlantic City CasinosThe pressure is heaping up on Atlantic City as the near bankrupt casino city fights hard to avoid a New Jersey state takeover of its financial policies. Opposing camps have put forth two new competing proposals which more or less give Atlantic City about 130 days to put its house in order.

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney has proposed an amendment to the existing bill for state takeover under which the city would be able to retain control over its functions for a period of four months during which time city officials would need to develop and pass a legally binding plan to reduce the city’s $250 million municipal budget by half.

In a statement, Sweeney said,

For years the Atlantic City government has made bold assertions regarding its ability to solve the problem. Despite those assertions, no solutions have ever been implemented in a material way. Our proposal gives the city one last chance.

NJTV News

Under this version, Atlantic City would have 130 days to propose and pass a state-approved plan that would result in halving the annual budget from $6,700 per capita to $3,500. If it fails to do so, the original bill would come into force and state would take control of the city giving it wide-ranging power including the right to break union contracts unilaterally, dispose of city assets and issue orders requiring the council to pass ordinances.

Sweeney’s amendment is a response to a bill introduced by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto. Prieto has blocked the original bill proposed by Governor Christie which would have given the state sweeping controls over the city’s operations immediately in order to rescue the city from bankruptcy.

Prieto responded by saying that although he welcomed the gesture of compromise, the new bill still did not address his core issue with the original bill which was that it negates collective bargaining rights and fair labor practices.

Gov. Christie is yet to respond to the latest proposal, with his spokesperson saying that there would be no comment without reviewing it. Christie has earlier said that he would not sign the legislation even if a single word of it is changed.

Prieto’s competing bill gives a longer window of two years to Atlantic City for fixing its finances before the state takes over. Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian supports Prieto’s bill saying that the city has enormous problems which require a long-term solution. He added that he was open to working out a compromise but it needed to be feasible.


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