Once a grand seaside destination, Atlantic City is almost completely out of money.
"It used to be that more than 80 percent of our taxes came from casinos. Those days are long gone," said Mayor of Atlantic City, Don Guardian. Since 2010 Atlantic City has seen four of its 12 casinos close, including the mammoth Revel casino which cost 2.4 billion to build in 2012.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he will sign an aid package only if the state Legislature passes a bill that would allow the state to take over large parts of Atlantic City’s local government.
No dice, at least not yet.
In a move to delay a government shutdown beyond Friday, the Mayor asked all city collective bargaining units to modify their contracts and accept an end-of-the-month payment versus every two weeks. It will buy the city a couple more months.
"It gives us an opportunity to ask people to pray to god to give the Governor wisdom and discernment as he's making decisions about Atlantic City," the Mayor told Brian. "He's not been willing to sit at the table with people that he should," meaning representatives of the city, faith-based leaders and residents. "This gives us the opportunity through April, May and June to try and persuade the Governor to be a little more helpful."
But in a less than helpful move yesterday, Christie announced that he directed the Education Commissioner to file a lawsuit against Atlantic City because it owes the school district more than $30 million, an action he hoped would stop the city from making payroll payments.
“He’s now trying to use the children of Atlantic City,” the Mayor told Brian, dismissing the charges. “If he wants the Attorney General to sue anyone he should sue himself, because he’s the one who tells us when to make the payments.”
With no deal in sight and money running out by the day, the Mayor signed off with a plea: “Pray for us.”