Tags: Atlantic City | tax | budget | casino

Atlantic City Escapes Tax Rise in 2015 Budget Approved by State

Tuesday, 22 Sep 2015 05:12 PM

Atlantic City, New Jersey's struggling gambling hub, won state approval on Tuesday to adopt a 2015 budget balanced without tax increases.

The state's Local Finance Board unanimously approved the budget, which relies on at least $33 million of redirected casino revenues included in state legislation that Governor Chris Christie could still veto.

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian told the board that the city's property tax rate had risen 50 percent over two years.

"We don't think that we could possibly raise taxes again," Guardian said. The city has had to hike its tax rate to offset losses from shuttered casinos and property tax appeals.

The $262 million spending plan for fiscal 2015, which began in January, includes all federal and state funds and is $2.76 million smaller than last year.

The city's emergency manager Kevin Lavin, appointed by Christie in February, said in a report earlier this year that the city had a $101 million deficit.

The city has been closing that gap through frozen salaries, a halt in promotions, attrition, three kinds of financial aid from the state and a federal grant to retain 85 firefighters through 2017.

The city is also deferring $38 million of employee health and pension payments to the state.

But it is also still counting on some money that might not materialize: casino taxes and payments that have been going in part to marketing efforts.

Under legislation passed in June, some of those funds would be redirected to help pay city debt, but Christie has not signed the bills yet. He could veto them, strip some measures out or allow them to go into effect automatically without his signature when the state Assembly comes back into session.

One big outstanding bill is the $88 million the city owes to the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa for a property tax settlement agreement. The city is paying $150,000 a month but hoping to negotiate, through the emergency manager, a deal to pay down the rest without having to borrow.

A spokesman for Lavin did not reply to a request for comment.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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Economy
Atlantic City, New Jersey's struggling gambling hub, won state approval on Tuesday to adopt a 2015 budget balanced without tax increases.
Atlantic City, tax, budget, casino
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2015-12-22
Tuesday, 22 Sep 2015 05:12 PM
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