Political leaders announced a five-year compact to reverse Atlantic City’s decline and avoid the city’s possible bankruptcy.
$240 million in debt and $160 million in tax appeals are just two signs of Atlantic City’s decline. In order to avoid bankruptcy, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christine has expressed his support of a five-year compact. Under the agreement, the government would assert control over Atlantic City’s financial decision-making.
“Let’s not be naive. We do need money.”
Also, the plan would allow for the restructuring of the city’s debt, privatization of municipal services, selling of city assets, and dissolution of departments. The news came just before the struggling city’s council was about to discuss and ask the state for permission to declare bankruptcy. Christine wants the plan to get implemented by the end of February.
State control to relieve Atlantic City’s decline
The plan was introduced collectively by Gov. Chris Christine, Senate President Steve Sweeney, and Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian. The current form of the compact is a reworked version of a previous one. Sweeney’s bill (S970) insisted a state takeover, while the new compact is more of a cooperation.
“You can call it whatever you want to call it,” said Christie. “What I am looking for is an intervention in the short term so that business will want to stay and invest there,” he added. The state promised to work in cooperation with Atlantic City officials.
Takeover or intervention?
“We’re not going to go for a state takeover,” reassured the frustrated residents Marty Small, President of the Atlantic City Council. Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said that a takeover could not happen without the council’s approval. “If the Assembly is not involved, then there is no agreement,” he commented. Mayor Guardian outlined four options:
“Do nothing, have a state takeover, file bankruptcy or form a partnership.”
“We were certainly against the takeover but the reality is very clear,” added Guardian. And the reality is that “we do need money,” as Small said. US gambling news underline the fact that this compact is only the latest in a series of the government’s steps to relieve Atlantic City’s decline. To avoid bankruptcy, the city received plenty of help from the state over the years. The city’s budget was an object of the state’s approval and the daily finances were overseen by an emergency manager.