On Monday, Nov. 9, NJ Governor Chris Christie said no to the PILOT BILL legislation sitting on his desk for the past 6 months. (conditionally)
The legislation was intended to stabilize Atlantic City’s finances. According to Philly.com, the GUV said: The bill failed “to recognize the true path to economic revitalization & fiscal stability.”
Casinos wanted it…..the Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce wanted it. County Executive Levinson, not so much. Christie says he MIGHT sign….. if…..it was re-written, giving the state more control.
Senate President Sweeney was not happy. But he and Christie agreed to sit down & do some tweaking. Christie said the bill “did not meet the goal of setting a course toward renewed, long-term prosperity and economic growth.”
Atlantic City is about $400 million in debt. Much is owed to Borgata and other casinos due to tax appeals.
The PILOT would have allowed casinos to collectively pay $150 million each year to Atlantic City in lieu of property taxes for two years. Then for the next 13 years, that number would drop to $120 million.
Christie wants that money to go directly to state…not directly to Atlantic City. Christie wants his team to distribute funds to Atlantic City as long as they have an approved, rational plan.
Christie wrote: “Regrettably, many of the city’s key stakeholders have failed to embrace the concepts of fiscal restraint and strong leadership, and instead have settled on a course toward self-preservation and vacillation.” “Equally regrettable are the provisions of this package of bills that simply shift resources to the city without requiring accountability on the part of those who receive the funds or those who benefit from the unique tax payment arrangements set forth in the legislation.”
IATA $30 million a year that casinos give to the Atlantic City Alliance marketing would go to the state. That money would be held in escrow. It would be available to the city..if they start showing some money smarts.
Christie also wants revenue generated from gaming taxes for CRDA Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to be redirected to Atlantic City to pay down it’s debt.
Without tweaks, Christie thinks the current PILOT proposal would NOT renew long-term prosperity, economic growth, and expansion in the region’s tourism, entertainment, and gaming industries”.
NOTE > AC owes Borgata $88 million in tax appeals, paying it down in $150,000 monthly installments.
Casinos agreed not to file future tax appeals if the PILOT payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) system were adopted.
Christie on Monday also vetoed a bill that would force Casinos to provide FREE health-care and retirement benefits for all full-time union employees.
Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian is reserving comment right now, while Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson expressed a dash of reserved happiness. Sorta.
Like the governor, Levinson wants a re-worked PILOT or other viable plan for the future of Atlantic City. Levinson said restructuring (bankruptcy) is a viable option. It can be considered a hammer/tool. AC will struggle to get out from that level of debt, said the elder statesman of NJ. ‘Better to let casinos ask for reassessment.’ Assessors pulled assessments out of thin air when originally setting taxes for casinos
Galloway Township Mayor Don Purdy thinks Atlantic City has too much old, lingering debt. Throwing good money at bad money won’t work,” Purdy said. “The only way to fix it is to go bankrupt.”
Egg Harbor Township Mayor Sonny McCullough agrees with Purdy. “AC needs to reorganize just like Detroit.” Many Mayors want AC to consider filing for bankruptcy. A large percentage of local mayors don’t want the possibility of larger county tax bills, while casinos get a 15 year smooth ride.
Casino Association of NJ was not happy about the conditional veto.
Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson and AC Mayor Guardian were cool with county grabbing 13.5 percent of casino payments. Atlantic City Council members were not so cool about it.
The post Christie Says No to Atlantic City Pilot Bill. Casinos Not Happy. appeared first on Atlantic City Prime Time.