Atlantic City Mayor Jokes About the Millions That Casino is Owed in Tax Refund
ATLANTIC CITY — In an address billed as his "unofficial state of the city address" following a state takeover of his city's finances in 2016, Mayor Don Guardian talked about the many setbacks last year and his hopes for the new year.
Guardian, speaking Wednesday at a Golden Nugget a luncheon of local city movers and shakers, talked a lot about the city's recent setbacks and future plans for improvement. But he also refrained from putting on rose-colored glasses.
"I would be a fool if I said that last year was such a bad year that this is going to be good. This is going to be a challenging year."
The word "resiliency" seemed to be key to this speech.
"Resiliency is really getting healthy again after five casinos close," he said.
Guardian said his town lost 60 percent of its tax ratables because 68 percent of the tax revenue "didn't come in." Musing about his plight as mayor of a city with deep fiscal problems, Guardian added, "I could have been a pastor, because all I do is beg because I don't have the money."
Guardian also has an interesting take on the big, hard-fought tax refund Atlantic City owes to the Borgata.
"It's like your frat buddy lends you $20 and you don't pay it back and it gets awkward and you don't hang out with him as much. It's like that with me and (Borgata president Tom Balance), only I owe him $150 million."
In a reference to the Christie administration and the state takeover, Guardian said that he has to work with the state "at least for another year until (Gov. Chris Christie) leaves on Jan. 20 and we get a new governor that might like Atlantic City ... again."
Two Democratic candidates, Phil Murphy and Assemblyman John Wisniewski, have said they would end the state takeover. Guardian is a Republican.
The mayor's official State of the City address comes late in January at a City Council meeting.