The latest on the AC takeover
The Local Finance Board of the NJ Department of Community Affairs voted this week to take over the casino town’s government. The DCA — under the direction of Gov. Chris Christie — had earlier rejected a plan from the city in attempt to avoid the takeover that was prescribed by a state bailout plan.
How does the takeover work in the short term? The state will work above the city council. More from the New York Times:
The decision would give the head of the finance board the power to sell municipal assets, renegotiate union contracts and fire city employees. …
It was not immediately clear what authority the city’s Republican mayor, Donald Guardian, or its elected council would retain.
There remains a possibility that the state will challenge the state’s move in court. But until that point, when a court injunction would be a possibility, NJ appears to be in charge of the city.
How did we get here on AC?
This spring, the state passed an aid package for AC that provided loans so that the city’s government could continue to operate while it came up with a plan to break even. The city had increasingly found it difficult to meet its financial obligations as five of AC’s 12 casinos had closed in recent years.
After the aid package was enacted by NJ, Atlantic City then put together a five-year budget plan last month to attempt to balance its finances and avoid a possible state takeover prescribed by the the bailout package.
Last week, the DCA — under the direction of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration — put out a report saying the plan did not pass financial muster. That revelation from the government led to this week’s takeover.
Complicating matters: Christie
The future of the state’s involvement in Atlantic City because of the status of Gov. Christie’s administration.
With the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, it’s very possible that Christie — one of Trump’s top surrogates — gets a spot in his administration. The “Bridgegate” scandal — and the conviction of two of his top aides — has called into question if Trump would continue to associate with Christie.
If Christie leaves his post, it’s not clear NJ would retain control of AC moving forward. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno could very well decide to hand the reins back to the city if she ascends to the governorship.
Indeed, some were surprised when Christie did not accept the AC plan, which many viewed as fiscally responsible.
But for now, NJ is in charge of AC.