Route 40 yesterday wrote about Atlantic County’s spending on drug and alcohol rehab services – half-way houses will get more money next year, but there will be less spent on counseling for outpatients. Read the story here. On a similar topic but over in Cherry Hill, NJPen’s Matt Skoufalos takes at what happened when a private company wanted to build a rehab center in local residents’ backyards. You can read that story here and check out NJPen for the rest of Skoufalos’ reporting on all sides of the Cherry Hill rehab center debate. The Inquirer’s Amy Rosenberg is following the battle over the Margate dunes from a court in Camden, where yesterday a civil engineer testified about the potential unsightly and dangerous side effects that dunes would bring to the beach.
Atlantic County will next year slash its spending on individual and group counseling for people in outpatient drug and alcohol detox programs but increase its spending on halfway houses, according to a new request for proposals. The county, which spends more than half a million dollars on alcohol and drug abuse treatment each year, has money set aside from the New Jersey Division of Addiction Services and the Atlantic County Division of Public Health. The total funding for drug and alcohol abuse services will be $560,756 in 2017, up slightly from $547,984 this year. The bulk of that money will be spent on providing short-term residential and inpatient detoxification services, according to the RFP. Spending on halfway house services will rise to $40,000 in 2017 from $30,000 this year, while spending on outpatient counseling will slip to $12,000 from $25,500 this year.
New Jersey’s teachers’ union spent tens of thousands of dollars – multiple times some of its members’ salaries – campaigning against the introduction of school vouchers in Atlantic City, but the issue has not gone away and interest seems to be spreading to other nearby communities. You can read the Route 40 exclusive here. Fighter Jets
The Press of Atlantic City has the news that Atlantic City International Airport will not house the new F-35 Fighter Jets that Sen. Cory Booker and local Rep. Frank LoBiondo had hoped to lure to the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing, which is based at the airport. Booker and LoBiondo got some pretty sweet lobbying money from the aerospace sector (more on that on Route 40 later) to try and do the deal and LoBiondo described the Air Force’s decision as a setback. The Press doesn’t go into detail, but presumably expansion of the base is now less likely.
The NJEA spent big to end questions over school vouchers for private education in Atlantic City. But the movement seems to be spreading in South Jersey. New Jersey’s teachers’ union spent more than $115,000 this election period to oppose a public question, according to filings with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC). The money was funneled through a campaign finance cash-pile set up just weeks before the election and dubbed the NJEA November School Elections Committee, the filings show. About half of that money was used to fight a non-binding question posed on Atlantic City’s ballot that would have introduced school vouchers of $10,000 for private education.
The Pinelands Commission – a state authority that oversees an area of South Jersey bigger than Rhode Island – has decided to put off any decision on a $1 billion pipeline proposal presented by a consortium that includes South Jersey Gas. The commission – which isn’t really known for leadership or transparency – failed to give details on exactly what it will do, but there will be some kind of public comment period, NJ Spotlight reports. The PennEast Pipeline, which is supposed to stretch from Luzerne County, PA to Mercer County, NJ, and bring the area cheaper gas, has already been held up by federal authorities after late route changes. It’s not clear whether the Pinelands Commission’s review could further hold up the pipeline project, along with another one that was proposed by New Jersey Natural Gas. CRDA Reshuffle
It’s old news that the outgoing director of our other local state authority, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, will get a golden parachute of a quarter of a million dollars, or one year’s salary.
The skyrocketing cost of Narcan—the lifesaving opioid antidote used to revive people in overdose—is impacting budgeting decisions for at least one South Jersey police department. Pleasantville Chief Sean Riggin said the cost of a dose of Narcan has increased between 200% and 400% for his department (depending on how you estimate), while at the same time the number of doses the city uses has spiked. “We had to put it in as a line-item in the budget this year,” he said. “Narcan is staggeringly expensive.”
Riggin sat down with Breaking AC and Route 40 yesterday at Gary’s Restaurant in Pleasantville for an interview that covered a range of topics.
“Our budget is not increasing for next year, and our Narcan cost is, so other things are going to get cut,” he said.
Water Rates Rise Atlantic City’s Municipal Utilities Authority has raised rates 10 percent to $50 a quarter (they’re still the lowest in the area). The rate rise was needed, the board said, to cover a budget shortfall after one of the authority’s biggest customers stopped buying its water. Who was that big customer? New Jersey American Water, whose lobbyist is Philip Norcross, brother to South Jersey power broker George Norcross. American Water – which could be a possible bidder for Atlantic City’s MUA if it is put up for sale under the state’s takeover of the city’s finances – is negotiating with the MUA to buy a reduced amount of water.
The dark days of Atlantic City are behind it and Borgata could consider new developments, says the guy at the front of MGM, which runs the city’s most successful casino. Discussing the land that MGM owns around Borgata, Chief Executive Jim Murren said it could be developed. “We’re going to grow our business,” he said. Read more at NJ.com. Meanwhile, a new bill designed to prevent casino owners from holding licenses after shutting down a casino – apparently in an effort to prevent the Taj Mahal from reopening with new labor contracts – will get a hearing today.
At some point today, an artist armed with a chainsaw will hack into the trunk of a dead oak tree in a Pine Barrens park. In life, the oak tree was witness to more than a century of history in the village of Richland. In death, it will be a monument to that history. At least, that’s the vision of Buena Vista Mayor Chuck Chiarello. No one knows precisely what killed the oak tree in Richland’s Saw Mill Park.
This week was an odd one weather-wise, but it made for some great pictures. It started warm and wet, then there was the Wednesday of Fog, then it turned cold, apparently to get into the holiday spirit in time for a whole lot of tree lightings and parades on Friday and Saturday. Here’s our selection of some of the week’s best images – this time they’re all from Atlantic County, via @rachel_ellentuck, @iamderricklogan, @listenofabc, @nigojapics, @worldwydewilliams and @suziqleigh.