Sen. Whelan: High Taxes in Atlantic City Need to be Stopped

Another blueprint to save Atlantic City. This one from two state senators — State Senate President Steven Sweeney and Sen. Jim Whelan. They have a five-prong plan that includes cutting property taxes for casinos, requiring them to pay some employee benefits, redirecting some taxes to pay off debt, reconsidering the Atlantic City Alliance and cutting city and school budgets, which Mayor Don Guardian has already suggested. Whelan told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that right now the high taxes in Atlantic City need to be stopped because they are driving out casinos and homeowners.

When asked how the plan will stabilize Atlantic City’s finances, Whelan said that it will provide predictability. He said when someone is in business and is paying, in the case of casinos, $20 million or more in property taxes and one year it is up and the next one it may be down, it makes it hard to sustain that model, so businesses and homeowners need predictability.

“It would give a flat rate to the casinos based on the success that the casinos are having. Right now, they’re in the range [of a] $2.5 billion industry and the casino would pay about $120 million in property taxes on a proposal with additional monies coming from the CRDA [Casino Reinvestment Development Authority] and Atlantic City Alliance. So they would be up around $180 million, which is about what the casinos pay now,” said Whelan.

Guardian said, “If you allow gambling in North Jersey, this will kill us.” Whelan said that the bills now do not address gambling in North Jersey. He said that right now officials have to stop the high taxes in Atlantic City because they are driving casinos out of business and and homeowners out of town. He said that causes a downward spiral that gets worse every time someone moves out because then everyone else pays more in taxes. He said after that is turned around, then officials can look at how to get the dollars needed in Atlantic City to finish the job of total redevelopment.