ATLANTIC CITY — The Atlantic County freeholder board passed a resolution at its meeting Tuesday to urge state lawmakers to work with “duly elected local officials of Atlantic City” to solve the city’s serious financial problems.
It passed unanimously, as talk of a new agreement for a financial rescue package for the resort, and increased state involvement in the city’s finances, was filtering through the freeholder board.
“There’s a meeting taking place across the sidewalk at City Hall,” said the resolution’s sponsor Ernest Coursey, a Democrat who represents parts of Atlantic City, Egg Harbor Township and Pleasantville. He was talking about a special City Council meeting to discuss the possibility of the city filing for bankruptcy protection, and where discussion of the new agreement was now also expected.
“Talks have been going on,” said Coursey. He said the governor has met with the mayor. “At least now the city has a chance for a seat at the table.”
But he said there were many unanswered details about the new agreement.
“To my knowledge the spirit of this resolution goes along with what went on today,” said Freeholder Director Frank Formica, a Republican, referring to a press conference by Governor Chris Christie, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian to announce a new approach to fixing the resort’s finances.
“It seems the state and city will be working together,” Formica said.
City officials and residents had complained that no one from the city was consulted by state officials and lawmakers in developing an earlier version of state takeover legislation.
Coursey said the strong negative response by the Atlantic City community must have been what prompted the governor and Sweeney to reconsider the initial bill.
In other business, the county introduced a bond ordinance to restructure some of its debt to achieve a lifetime savings of about $1.1 million on bonds due to mature in 2023-2024, said county Treasurer Bonnie Lindaw.
There would be a refunding of bonds and an issuance of $33.5 million in new bonds. The public hearing on the ordinance will be 4 p.m. Feb. 9 at the county’s Stillwater Building on Shore Road in Northfield.