Legislators in the state of New Jersey have been considering a takeover of Atlantic City for some time in the hopes that they can straighten out the financial issues that gambling town is currently facing. A new proposal was introduced just a few days ago that would give the city 130 days to create a plan to repair the financial issues or the state would take over. Now, it seems that leaders of the state are trying to work out a compromise before any legislation moves forward.
On Monday, the Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto announced that he had spoken with Steve Sweeney, the Senate President, this past weekend on what path to take to bail out Atlantic City. Prieto stated it was not his idea to create a bill and ram it down anyone’s throat, that it’s not about putting something up but getting something accomplished for the city. A spokesman representing Sweeney confirmed that both legislators had spoken but neither Prieto nor Sweeney have stated what would take place within a possible compromise.
Governor of the State, Chris Christie, stated last week that he would prefer the bill that passed in the Senate to be used, allowing the finances of Atlantic City be taken over by the state immediately. However, he would consider another bill if it were presented to him by democratic leaders. Prieto will most likely present his new measure this week, which would create a new panel of five people along with a special master that would set benchmarks in which the city must reach. The state would take over only after the city is unable to meet the benchmarks within a two year time frame. Marty Small, the Democratic Council President, as well as Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, have shown their support for Prieto’s plan.
Atlantic City is currently over $500 million in debt with an almost $100 million budget gap.