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Mazzeo on Christie’s “Mixed Bag” of Delayed Actions on Atlantic City Aid Bill Package

Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D-Atlantic) released the following statement Monday after Gov. Christie took long overdue action on a five-bill package he sponsored to help boost the economies of Atlantic City and Atlantic County:

“Since June, we’ve been hopeful that Gov. Christie would do the right thing and sign these bills without delay. Now, four and a half months after we approved them, he sends the people of Atlantic County a mixed bag filled with the good, the bad and the ugly.

“More than anything right now, the residents of Atlantic City deserve the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their property tax bills will be stabilized and critical government services will be funded.

“These bills were designed to bring real long term sustainable reforms to Atlantic City, help stabilize the tax base and generate new investments and business opportunities in the region. In the coming days, we will carefully review the governor’s recommendations to make sure that any actions we take adhere to those principles.

“It’s incredibly unfortunate the governor chose to let these bills sit on his desk for months while he panders to voters across the country instead of focusing on the people who need him here. Now his actions have further delayed the critical reforms and aid Atlantic County needs. But rest assured, we will not stop until Atlantic City and Atlantic County are soundly on a path to becoming the resort destination it can and should be. In the meantime, we must stop the bleeding.”

Of Mazzeo’s five bills, Christie signed:
· (A-3983) – Establishes an additional category of state school aid to help Atlantic City decided by the education commissioner. Under the bill, a school district may receive this aid if it’s situated in a municipality in which: 1) commercial property accounted for at least 75 percent of the total assessed property valuation in 2008, and 2) between 2008 and 2013, the assessed value of commercial property declined by at least 25 percent. The Atlantic City School District is the only district that meets these criteria. Commercial property accounted for nearly 78 percent of the municipality’s total assessed property valuation in 2008, and declined by nearly 32 percent, from nearly $16 billion to less than $11 billion, between 2008 and 2013.

The following bills were conditionally vetoed:
· (A3981) – Would create the “Casino Property Taxation Stabilization Act” to address the dire situation in Atlantic City with casino closures. These closures, coupled with large property tax refunds owed by the city to several casinos as the result of successful property assessment appeals, created fiscal concerns for the city, which now cannot raise sufficient revenue to fund municipal government and schools. The bill would require that the casino gaming properties in Atlantic City be responsible for the payment to the city of an annual payment in lieu of tax, based on casino gaming revenues.
· (A-3984) – Would reallocate the casino investment alternative tax to Atlantic City to pay debt service on municipal bonds.
· (A-3985) – Would repeal the law that requires the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to enter into an agreement the Atlantic City Alliance for a five-year partnership. The bill also repeals the portion of law that authorized the authority to assess a fee on casino licensees if the public-private partnership was terminated or otherwise ended.

The following bill was vetoed:
· (A3982) – Would require the holder of a casino license to submit proof to the state that all agreements it’s entered into with representatives of its employees for collective bargaining provide for suitable health care benefits and retirement benefits for all full-time employees. A casino that fails to comply would be subject to forfeiture of its license.