• Legislation would establish casino payments instead of taxes
  • Christie faces a Monday deadline to act or bills take hold

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie must act on five bills intended to stabilize the finances of Atlantic City or they will become law Monday without his signature. 

The legislation would have casinos make fixed payments instead of property taxes, divert gambling-tax revenue that’s used for redevelopment projects to debt service, shift marketing funds to the city, provide more aid to schools and protect benefits for casino workers.

By establishing a revenue stream from the casinos, city officials would avoid battling them over property-tax appeals that could “significantly strain city finances, conceivably driving the city into bankruptcy,” Moody’s Investors Service said in a July report.

Atlantic City closed a $101 million budget deficit this year partly by anticipating $33.5 million of revenue from casinos that now goes to redevelopment projects and marketing.

The legislation was passed in June and is among 69 Assembly bills that will become law absent any action from the governor by Monday, according to the state’s office of legislative services. The return of the Assembly that day from its summer recess triggers the deadline.

Brian Murray, a spokesman for Christie, didn’t return a call and e-mail on the Atlantic City legislation Thursday. On Wednesday, he said the bills were under review.

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