Atlantic City mayor hopeful about bills to revive city finances

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 10, 2015 8:26 PM

By Hilary Russ

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian told Reuters on Tuesday that he is hopeful a package of legislation aimed at revitalizing the city's finances and tax base will be completed by the end of the year.

The city budget for fiscal 2015, which ends on Dec. 31, relies on at least $33.5 million that would be redirected from marketing to the city's coffers under the legislation.

On Monday, Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed three of the five bills passed in June, sending them back to lawmakers with suggested modifications.

Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat, and Christie, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate, have now said they will work immediately on a resolution so the rescue package can move forward.

"I'm just very happy to have partners like the state senate president and the governor helping to rebuild Atlantic City," Guardian told Reuters in a phone interview.

He also said that Christie's approval of one bill - for additional school funding - provides "much needed financial support."

However, Christie's veto message contained a cryptic jab at unknown individuals, saying "many of the City's key stakeholders have failed to embrace the concepts of fiscal restraint and strong leadership, and instead have settled on a course toward self-preservation and vacillation."

Spokespeople for Christie's administration have not replied to an email seeking clarification.

Guardian would not say who he thinks those comments refer to, but he said his administration has an extremely cooperative working relationship with the city's state-appointed monitor, as well as with its state-appointed emergency manager.

"There are going to be people who think I'm doing a good job, and people who are going to criticize me. So that type of comment doesn't affect me," he said, adding again that he was "very happy" to work with Christie and Sweeney.

(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)