Gov. Chris Christie, along with city officials, outlined a plan Tuesday that will give the state more control over the seaside gambling mecca’s finances. Atlantic City is suffering from high municipal debt and dwindling economic prospects.
Under the proposed legislation, the state of New Jersey would be given the power to, among other things, restructure Atlantic City’s municipal debt, amend or terminate its contracts and consolidate or share services with the county or other municipalities.
“The urgency of the city’s current financial predicament cannot be understated,” said Christie, a Republican who is seeking his party’s presidential nomination.
Atlantic City has been struggling financially for years. Its gambling revenue dropped by 8% in 2014. Four of the eight casinos that line the city’s hallmark boardwalk have closed and the city has lost 8,000 jobs.
Mayor Don Guardian had previously said bankruptcy was “back on the table” after Christie rejected a plan that was designed to keep the city solvent. Christie said Tuesday that bankruptcy was not his preference.
“We’re committed to using every tool that will now be available to us to restructure the city’s debt as well as re-engineer city services to be delivered at an affordable cost to their taxpayers,” Christie said.
Christie said he expects the new legislation to be introduced and passed in February.