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Atlantic City Briefs: City Council passes 2% tax on retail recreational cannabis sales

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ATLANTIC CITY — The city will collect a 2% tax on retail recreational cannabis sales and a 1% tax on wholesale sales under an ordinance that passed Wednesday night.

Co-sponsor Councilman Jesse Kurtz said before the meeting it is important for the city to collect funds to deal with some of the downsides of legalizing a recreational drug.

“No matter how we do it, there is going to be an added burden of enforcement,” Kurtz said. “Other states see an increase in panhandling, which we already have. I’m trying to make sure we are gong to be able to cover our costs.”

Kurtz said there is also an element of fairness.

“For people who don’t like cannabis, why should they have to pay for (dealing with negative effects)?” Kurtz said.

A tax on sales is more of a user fee, he said.

Waiving Civil Service test

Another ordinance that passed Wednesday night allows the city to hire Class II police officers as regular officers without requiring them to take the Civil Service test.

Council President George Tibbitt said police interim Officer-in-Charge James Sarkos would choose which Class II, or part-time, officers to hire as regular officers after seeing them at work in the city.

The ordinance allows the city to prioritize diversity and to hire officers who are particularly talented at community policing, Sarkos said during the measure’s introduction last month.

Promotions would still be based on Civil Service tests, Sarkos said.

Council defers to library board on renaming

An ordinance to rename the main branch of the Atlantic City Free Public Library for William K. Cheatham, a longtime resident and president of the library Board of Trustees, was tabled Wednesday night, when it was due for a final vote.

“It has come to my attention that the library board of trustees has the right to name the library,” said council Vice President Kaleem Shabazz, a sponsor of the ordinance. “They are going to take that up at their next meeting.”

Instead, the council voted in favor of a resolution encouraging the library board to rename the main branch for Cheatham, who died at age 90 on June 27.

Cheatham was appointed to the board in 2005 and became president in 2008, and had been involved in many charities and organizations.

In November 2019, the corner of Atlantic and Maryland avenues was designated “William K. Cheatham’s Block.” Four years earlier, then-Mayor Don Guardian recognized him as an “Atlantic City Hometown Hero.”

In other business

Council introduced several ordinances Wednesday, including one requiring background checks on anyone working with children in the city and banning anyone with a criminal background from participating in most youth activities.

Any organization using city facilities such as parks or gyms would also have to conduct background checks and not allow those with criminal backgrounds to use those facilities.

There was some discussion about making it retroactive, to require background checks on anyone currently working for the city or volunteering, but the legal ramifications of that needed more research, officials said.

Another ordinance would add parking meters to the area by Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall where the former Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino was demolished, including parts of Missouri and Mississippi avenues and Columbia Place.

One ordinance that failed to get enough support for introduction would have increased some developer fees in the city. Kurtz said he voted no because he has been asking for information on how the city’s fees compare to those of surrounding and/or similar municipalities, and the professionals working for the city have not provided the information.

“The fact that information is not available in a timely manner raises red flags with me,” Kurtz said. “For whatever reason, our professionals are not providing that information.”

He also questioned why fees would be raised when the city is trying to encourage development.


Michelle Brunetti Post



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Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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