Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo hopes there will be new discussion about combining Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA) with the Atlantic City water authority, according to a letter he sent on Wednesday. “The time is now to ensure that Atlantic City’s prestigious water company stays in public hands,” wrote Mazzeo in the letter addressed to the two top executives at the authorities and lawyer Jeff Chiesa, who is charged with overseeing the state takeover of Atlantic City. The ACUA and the Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority (ACMUA) last year held talks about working together to help the city water authority generate more income, which would help bolster the city’s own financial position. “I’m writing today in the hopes that this letter will help renew the conversation in an effort to bring together two well-run utilities authorities for the sake of the public good,” Mazzeo wrote. The fate of Atlantic City’s water authority has been uncertain since the precarious position of the city’s finances put pressure on officials to sell or lease it.
Atlantic City property owners could see a tax cut of more than 5 percent this year after the state budget released some funds to the city and county, Mayor Don Guardian told WIBG 1020 in an interview on Monday. City residents will be”very surprised at the considerable decrease, way beyond just the 5 percent that we had promised them,” Guardian said. The state last week passed its budget after a three-day partial shutdown caused by a political standoff over school funding and legislation related to the state’s largest health insurer. The state’s new school funding package will help ease the tax burden for residents in Atlantic City and Atlantic County, Guardian explained. At the same time, the state has promised Atlantic City $13 million to fund tax appeals, which means the city will not have to issue new debt, he said.
The number of prescriptions for opioid painkillers written in some South Jersey counties increased between 2015 and 2010, bucking the national trend of a decline in opioid prescription rates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. Cumberland and Cape May counties saw an increase in opioid prescription rates over that period, while the prescription rate in Atlantic, Camden, Salem, Gloucester and Burlington counties remained stable, but much higher than the prescription rate in North Jersey, the CDC found. The report, part of a nation-wide review of opioid prescription rates published last week, showed that South Jersey has some of the highest opioid prescription rates in the nation. The CDC report found some socio-economic characteristics were associated with a higher rate of opioid prescription: “a larger percentage of non-Hispanic whites; higher rates of uninsured and Medicaid enrollment, lower educational attainment; higher rates of unemployment; micropolitan status; more dentists and physicians per capita; a higher prevalence of diagnosed diabetes, arthritis, and disability; and higher suicide rates. Together, these factors explain approximately 32% of the variation in the amount of opioids prescribed at the county-level.”
Outside interests with deep pockets want a say in Atlantic City’s mayoral election – why? We dug deep into the campaign filings made by Democratic Mayoral Candidate Frank Gilliam during his primary run and found some clues.
New Jersey’s Division of Law has spent $6.3 million with six consulting and law firms hired for projects related to Atlantic City’s oversight since March 2015, according to invoices released in response to a public records request. The invoices are heavily redacted so it is hard to glean details of the lucrative advisory work, but they show that many more thousands of dollars have been spent on unspecified consulting and takeover-related litigation than on monetizing Atlantic City’s few remaining assets. Just over half of that money was spent with Ernst & Young, which was hired in 2015 to analyze the city’s finances. The West Orange law firm Chiesa, Shahinian & Giantomasi, which was appointed by the state in November to run Atlantic City has charged $2.4 million for six months of work on everything from city council agendas to waste management and litigation, the documents show. You can download a copy of the database compiled by Route 40, with links to each invoice, here.
Atlantic City’s Garden Pier, purchased earlier this year by Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein, will be reopening next month as a locals-focused entertainment venue with live music and a bar area. In the shadow of the still-shuttered mega-casino Revel and not far from Blatstein’s Showboat hotel, the newly renamed PierAC plans to draw Atlantic County residents with a reward-card program and drink specials – plus entertainment.
There have been many different plans for reviving Atlantic City’s fortunes, but one consistent idea has been to make more of the island city’s proximity to the water. This year, new tenants at the former Atlantic City Boatyard are launching two new businesses that will give that a go.
There’s a sign on the locked gate of Garden Pier at the far end of Atlantic City’s Boardwalk. It reads “PierAC – coming July 2017”. The pier’s landscaping is unkempt. Nothing seems to be going on in the way of development.
Property records show Bart Blatstein borrowed millions of dollars backed by his Atlantic City properties at the start of last year. The developer’s purchases since then have not been costly, which would suggest he has money to spend on building and renovation. But Blatstein has been keeping quiet about his plans.
There were more than a hundred people gathered in Brown Park on Saturday for a double dutch competition. While kids swarmed the park’s brand-new play equipment, their parents gathered around swishing jump ropes. More than the official ribbon-cutting two weeks ago, this event marked the rebirth of a park that had become synonymous with so many of Atlantic City’s problems.
After a $1.5 million renovation, the park reopened last month and it is now being used by families. Many of the parents in the park on Saturday never played there themselves – Brown Park had that kind of a reputation for over three decades. “We’re 35 years old – no one ever played in Brown’s Park, because of the infestation of drugs and alcohol and violence,” said Indra Owens, co-founder of a girls’ mentoring group called Princess Inc. When Owens and her Princess Inc co-founder Automne Bennett learned the park was being renovated, they got together with managers of the nearby housing developments.