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Running out of money: Atlantic City spends more than 10 counties in NJ

Tuesday, March 29, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Aidan Sander
Share |  3/27/2016

In his fight against the Republican Atlantic City mayor and the Democratic Assembly speaker over the city’s financial future, Gov. Chris Christie comes armed with numbers and sarcasm. His crusade for a state takeover of the cash-strapped city, including the power to rip up municipal union contracts, relies on a startling statistics: Atlantic City’s government spends around $6,600 a year per resident. No other city comes close. Newark, for example, spends $2,344 per resident. Sure enough, those are the calculations if you divide the cities’s budgets by the Census Bureau’s estimate of their population, which for Atlantic City was 39,551 in 2013. The $262 million municipal appropriation is the city’s highest ever, narrowly. Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian contends it’s misleading, though. Recently at the  Statehouse, which Guardian has visited frequently to lobby against the takeover legislation, the mayor said the city’s operating budget in 2015 was $220 million, following cuts of $25 million. He said the larger number includes $27.5 million for tax appeal payments, $7.5 million the state required as a reserve and $7 million it was directed to set aside for lawsuit liability.

‘Atlantic City’s in a unique situation’

Even if one excluded those, the spending  still amounts to well over $5,000 per capita- still far more than any other city. Guardian’s explanation for that is that in addition to the residents, there are 40,000 people who work in Atlantic City and that the population swells on weekends an during conventions, to peaks he estimates at 200,000 to 300,000.  “Atlantic City’s in a unique situation,” Guardian said. “We still, even with four casinos closed, we still have 25 million visitors every year. This is a town where everybody comes and plays every day, and we’ve got to make sure it’s safe for them. And that comes at a cost.”


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