Christie Says He Doesn’t ‘Want to be Mayor of Atlantic City’
ATLANTIC CITY — The clock is counting down toward a November deadline for local officials to deliver a five-year plan to fix the troubled resort city's finances and close a $100 million budget shortfall.
Earlier this spring, city officials agreed to get their fiscal house in order or face the prospect of having the state of New Jersey step in and take over City Hall.
Atlantic City has struggled mightily in recent years after four casinos closed, causing a severe drop in the city tax base.
“I’m hopeful they’ll be able to pull it together because I don’t want to be mayor of Atlantic City, I’m prepared to be if I have to be, but I don’t want to be,” Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday at a news conference in Trenton.
Christie says he’s keeping his fingers crossed, but he’s not counting his chickens before they’re hatched.
“I’m not encouraged based upon the response we got from the $73 million loan we gave them, where they were sending it back with lawyers' mark-ups,” said Christie. “They’re broke, they want the people of New Jersey to bail them out and then they want to dictate terms. That’s not encouraging.”
Christie explained Atlantic City leaders tried to get the terms of the loan changed.
“The terms they found onerous – this will be a good window into where I think their mindset is — were the security we wanted for the loan,” Christie said. “We just wanted to make sure the people of New Jersey are securitized. I don’t think that’s unreasonable, but apparently they did. But eventually they relented because they needed the money."
The $73 million dollar loan, delivered a few weeks ago, will allow the city to cover its expenses until their fiscal recovery plan is completed in the fall.
Christie said the city will not be given any extra time to get their fiscal act together.
“No, no. Done. Done with extensions, done with games, done with tricks, done with all the rest of that. Done, done, done,” he said. “The deadline is the deadline and I wouldn’t even have the authority to extend it. It is a statutory deadline, and given my great respect for the Legislature, I would never ever try, by executive action, to extend a statutory deadline, for God’s sakes.”