Atlantic City risks shut down over budget crisis

GMT 14:33 2016 Friday ,25 March

Arab Today, arab today Atlantic City risks shut down over budget crisis

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
New York - AFP

Atlantic City, the famous US gambling resort town and setting for hit TV series "Boardwalk Empire" is in the crosshairs of financial crisis, in a battle pitting New Jersey Governor Chris Christie against the mayor.

Christie, a casualty of the race for the White House, who now endorses Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, is locked in a political struggle with Mayor Don Guardian over how to resolve the collapsing finances, with many city services slated to be shut down.

The coastal resort, which fell on hard times owing to increased competition from other gambling centers across the United States, saw four of its 12 casinos close in 2014, contributing to a sharp fall in tax revenue.

The mayor says the city will shut down all but essential services for three weeks from April 8 because it can no longer pay the bills.

The abrasive Republican governor, whose support for Trump has seen him lampooned by Democrats, backs takeover legislation to put the state in charge of Atlantic City to get its finances in order.

But despite a tentative deal, city leaders now quibble the terms, fearing the legislation as it stands would let the state sell off city assets and tear up contracts with public sector unions.

In an interview with WPG Talk Radio station on Thursday, Christie refused to back down and said the solution was to "shed hundreds of millions of dollars of debt and employment obligations."

Atlantic City had been "so irresponsible in the way they've given our public benefits, exorbitant health benefits, huge salaries, big pensions, that it's contributing mightily to bankrupting the city," he said.

But without funds, the mayor says the city will shut down non-essential services from April 8 until the next payment of quarterly taxes on May 2 during which employees will not be paid.

Trump, who declared bankruptcy four times in connection with Atlantic City properties, pulled out of the city in 2009 but has bragged about making a lot of money in the resort.


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