New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney has laid out a plan to rescue Atlantic City.
Sweeney’s proposal came before the Nov. 12 summit on the future of the struggling resort city that featured Governor Chris Christie and gambling executives.
Sweeney’s proposed legislation includes a requirement for casinos to pay $150 million in lieu of property taxes for two years with future payments tied to gaming revenues instead of property taxes. The plan also proposes the redirection of $25 million to $30 million a year to cover city debt payments while also requiring schools and the municipality to make $72 million in unspecified cuts.
The proposal also wants an amended casino license that would require prospective operators to have a baseline health care and retirement package for its workers. This part of the proposal came as a response to a judge’s decision that allowed Taj Mahal billionaire investor Carl Icahn to void the contract of its union to help cut costs.
“One of the things we don’t want is for Atlantic City to become Detroit,” Sweeney told reporters before adding that the plan has yet to be proposed as legislation. He also said
that the city spends $370 million for its schools and the municipal government, something that the financial climate in Atlantic City just can’t sustain at this point in time.
“The financial structure to run that city doesn’t work, so we have to fix that first,” Sweeney added. “Once you fix that, then we can start doing the other pieces that will actually put Atlantic City back together again.”
State assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D-Atlantic) supported Sweeney’s proposals, calling it necessary to “stop the bleeding” in the AC. “This will help control property taxes and protect senior citizens, middle-class homeowners and other residents of the city,” Mazzeo added. “Reducing that financial burden on taxpayers is critical for the future of Atlantic City and the region.”