The state takeover of Atlantic City won’t be ending anytime soon.
That’s the conclusion of the long-awaited report from Gov. Phil Murphy’s special counsel Jim Johnson.
“Atlantic City has a number of challenges that will only be resolved with significant direction from and partnership with the state,” Johnson wrote in the report.
Murphy campaigned on the promise to return the city to local control but says now is not the time to end state control.
“We’re not going away,” Murphy said. “We’ve got to go out and execute this plan. It’s an extraordinary plan, we have to execute it. We’re not going anywhere, and I say that in the very best sense of the word. We have Atlantic City’s back and we’re not going to give that up.”
The report calls for a series of changes to municipal operations and an increased focus on diversifying the city’s economy beyond its casinos.
The state took over control of Atlantic City in November 2016, under former Gov. Chris Christie after the governor and Legislature determined the city was unable to handle its more than half a billion dollars in debt. Johnson was appointed by Murphy in February to provide recommendations on how to return the city to local control.