N.J. will likely remain in control of Atlantic City after release of Murphy administration study

"This is a community that needs the state's help as a partner."

David Madden
September 20, 2018 - 6:03 pm

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — The Murphy administration has released a 64-page report looking at the future of Atlantic City, which has been under state control for about two years. 

It appears that takeover will remain in place in spite of the governor's promise as a candidate to end it.

Gov. Phil Murphy vowed to end the takeover — which started under his predecessor in late 2016 — and to that end, there have been changes. A new special counsel, Jim Johnson, took the place of former Sen. Jeff Chiesa, who oversaw the city's day-to-day operations. 

The replacement resulted in a series of meetings with all parties involved — and a different approach.

"This is a community that needs the state's help as a partner, not as a big-footing jamming down, taking away — you know, taxation without representation," Murphy said at an event in Atlantic City.

Many of Johnson's suggestions are still being reviewed by the governor's team. They center on continuous challenges ranging from police, fire and government staffing and salary to jobs, public health, and, of course, the casino industry.

But the key suggestion is to keep state control in place at least until the law expires in 2021, unless the city is on strong financial footing and not reliant on state aid.

Murphy was joined by Johnson, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver and Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam, who each highlighted improvements made in the city's overall economic situation, while agreeing that there is more work to be done.

"You've heard a lot of words of optimism, and they're genuine," the governor added, "but that's why as they say in the NFL, 'That's why you've got to play the game.' You'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."