Paul St. James has a campground along the Mays Landing-Somers Point road, but he lives most of the year in Phoenix. Over the winter he was watching a lot of tiny-home TV shows. “They have an entire channel. Fifty percent of the time they sell vacuum cleaners and the other fifty percent of the time they show mini homes.”
He realized the tiny homes he saw on the shows were not dissimilar to some of the recreational vehicles in his campground. “When I saw the tiny homes, I thought, ‘This is interesting. They are RVs.’ They’ve got wheels and a hitch and all that.”
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, a perennial on the merry-go-round that is Atlantic City real estate, last week acquired the mortgage to the Chelsea hotel, less than three months after selling the Taj Mahal casino.
Bill’s Gyros, a Boardwalk fixture in Atlantic City, has been closed a lot this winter. There was a sign on the door that said go to My Friend Diner, another block north along the boardwalk. Sometimes, even My Friend Diner was closed.
Tax Rates Still Uncertain
Atlantic County says all municipalities except Port Republic and Atlantic City will see a county tax-rate hike this year, reports The Press of Atlantic City. The county is quick to lay the blame on the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) deal that the state handed the casinos. But it’s actually still not clear exactly what the rates will have to be per municipality, the Press reports. While we all sit and wait for the county to turn on its calculator, you can check out this NJ Spotlight interactive map on property taxes across the state for some perspective.
It seems there wasn’t a whole lot of news in South Jersey yesterday beyond Stockton University’s hosting of the first debate among candidates for New Jersey Governor. There was a lot of Christie-bashing, which morphed into follow-up bashing of lead-candidate Phil Murphy’s ties to Wall Street. There was little in the way of new policy and there was broad agreement over funding schools and public pensions. Read The Philadelphia Inquirer’s take here and The Press of Atlantic City’s here.
A plan to open a beer garden on Atlantic City’s boardwalk is one step closer to launch after a public hearing last month. The planning officer for the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which oversees the boardwalk and tourism district, last week recommended the beer garden project to CRDA’s board for approval. The board’s next meeting is on Tuesday.
Walmart Plaza Details
What else is going into the new Walmart plaza along the Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Townships? We’re willing to bet you could probably guess the likely retail: yup, there’s a cellphone store (T-Mobile) and a nail salon (because 21st century strip mall). But there’s also a Starbucks, which I could see becoming a meeting spot for a lot of on-the-road sales people around here. Laura Stetser has the details.
In some neat reporting that came out after the Roundup published on Friday, the Press of Atlantic City’s Christian Hetrick discovered that, in spite of all the hullabaloo over the county getting a lower cut of casino taxes, the casinos will actually pay a half-million more this year to the county. Read it here. But Atlantic County’s administrator said its municipalities are still facing tax hikes because there is a tax credit owed to the city for taxes the casinos overpaid in previous years. In response, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA) snippily advised the county to check its math (the DCA is overseeing the Atlantic City takeover).
Ben Franklin said it best at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” These words are very applicable in Atlantic City and Atlantic County today, with the unconstitutional state intrusion, taking of tax revenue and giveaways in Atlantic City.
Atlantic City’s very own gadfly extraordinaire, William Cheatham, has long been trying to persuade younger people in the city to join him. Read Bill Sprouse’s profile of Mr Cheatham on Route 40 here and learn some more about the man who’s been married 71 years, including through two testing election campaigns.
William K. Cheatham attends most of the meetings of the City Council of Atlantic City. He attends the board meetings of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. He is president of the Board of Trustees of the Atlantic City Free Public Library, a member of the Shade Tree Committee and an alternate on the board of the Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority.
There was a time a little over a decade ago when Claudia Velasquez was in the seventh grade and she didn’t speak any English. She is now attaching paper on a flip-board, preparing to give a class in English, in the same red-brick Pleasantville school on Washington Avenue where she learned the language.
A report by Pew Charitable Trusts has faulted the tax incentives doled out to New Jersey projects, such as the over $1 billion that has gone to Camden development projects and the millions of dollars used to fund Stockton’s Atlantic City campus, the Courier Post reports. New Jersey’s tax incentive program is classified as ‘trailing’ the leading programs in other states in part because it has not program to regularly evaluate the tax incentives. The state’s Economic Development Authority said the report incorrectly characterizes its programs, which are evaluated. You can read the Pew report here. You might also be interested in the State Auditor’s report from earlier this year into selected incentive programs, which also found some flaws with the Camden projects.
New Jersey on Tuesday suddenly got a new blueprint for managing water resources, after the state’s Department of Environmental Protection surprised everyone by publishing a document that had been in the works for 20 years, NJ Spotlight reports. The timing of the publication of the ‘New Jersey Water Supply Plan’ might seem like an omen if you’re in Atlantic City since the state – at the end of this month – is set to decide the fate of the city’s Municipal Utilities Authority. Yes, we’re that cynical. The blueprint will help value assets, which it says need ‘targeted investment’. Critics slammed the report as ‘flawed’ because it fails to lay out a plan to protect the state’s water supply. Also, separate but related, is this piece that looks at how federal funding cuts might affect the state DEP.
Atlantic City Water
The fate of Atlantic City’s water authority is still unclear and Councilman Kaleem Shabazz is trying to revive talks with Atlantic County about possibly buying or leasing the water system, Christian Hetrick reported for The Press of Atlantic City yesterday. Under the state takeover law, the city has until the end of the month to “maximize the value” of the Municipal Utilities Authority. Separately, if you want a behind-the-scenes look at Atlantic City politics, read this Insider NJ piece on the mayoral race. Dead Deer
NJ.com has this listicle on the 13 worst counties in New Jersey for dead deer problems – you might be surprised to see the South Jersey counties that feature. Also, fun fact, did you know that deer carcass removal is pretty expensive?
Atlantic City kids will one day – in the not-too-distant-future – have a jazz school complete with a recording studio, thanks to the efforts of the people behind the Chicken Bone Beach concerts. A house on Indiana avenue was donated to the group and they are fundraising for the costs needed to renovate the property. Maxwell Reil has the details for The Press of Atlantic City.
The city and county are mad at the other over taxes, the Governor and his cohorts seemingly lied to both about many things, and New Jersey’s bureaucratic presence known as the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) voted to adopt a new master plan. It is understandable that much of the local populace seems mad at them all.