Atlantic City Alliance: We should disband now
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Been there, done AC. Now it's time to move on.
That's the message from the Atlantic City Alliance, the group created to promote the struggling seaside resort to other parts of the country.
The group that penned the "Do AC" promotional campaign and helped pull off successful free concerts on the city's beachfront this summer says it agrees with a recommendation to use the group's $30 million a year to help Atlantic City's finances instead.
Gov. Chris Christie's Atlantic City recovery panel proposed using the alliance's cash for other purposes, including funding a new public-private development corporation.
Borgata president Tom Balance, the chairman of the alliance, said it was a great idea four years ago. Now, not so much.
"We are in complete agreement with Governor Christie and Senate President Sweeney that the reality is that Atlantic City is on the brink if bold actions are not taken in the very near term," Balance said. "Circumstances have recently changed dramatically with the closure of four casinos, with another threatening to close in December."
Balance said resources must be redeployed to offset the casinos' obligation to pay $150M in alternative tax payments to the city, and as much as $30 million of additional cost associated with redirection of redevelopment taxes proposed by the commission.
"For these reasons, we believe that the legislature should consider the dissolution of the ACA and its $30 million per year obligation," Balance said.
The alliance was formed in 2011 as a way to promote Atlantic City to far-flung areas. It used cash that casinos had been paying for years to horse racing tracks in return for keeping slot machines out of them. Christie directed those payments to the newly created alliance and angered the horse racing industry, which is pushing harder than ever for the expansion of casinos to the northern New Jersey Meadowlands.
The commission, headed by Christie confidante Jon Hanson, bluntly said the alliance has outlived its usefulness.
The alliance, it wrote, "has increased awareness and interest in Atlantic City, but return on investment is below expectations and does little to affect urgent structural needs of the city."
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