Atlantic City, the distressed New Jersey gambling hub that’s under state oversight, will run out of money by the end of April if bills aimed at bolstering its finances aren’t enacted, Mayor Don Guardian said.
“Cash flow runs out April 29,” Guardian told reporters Wednesday during the New Jersey State League of Municipalities conference in his city.
Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed legislation that would have redirected a portion of casino revenue to the city, which was counting on the money to help close a $101 million deficit this year. He requested changes that steps up the state’s power over the funds. Lawmakers must approve them by Jan. 12 to avoid having to re-introduce the bills in the next session.
The measures were aimed at addressing the financial strains that have gripped Atlantic City as its onetime dominance over East Coast gambling is eroded by competition from neighboring states. The closing of four of 12 casinos last year battered Atlantic City’s revenue, and some of those that remain have sought to lower their property-tax bills by challenging the city’s assessments.
If the city runs out of cash, it won’t be able to borrow to stay afloat, Guardian said. Moody’s Investors Service grades the city’s debt Caa1, seven steps below investment grade. Standard & Poor’s ranks it B, five levels into so-called junk.
“It would be foolish to bond at the rates we would have to,” he said. “If we could find anyone to take our bonds.”