Water It’s been more than seven years since a state-appointed panel of scientists and academics told New Jersey’s Department for Environmental Protection to set limits on various toxic contaminants in its drinking water, but the DEP has failed to act in spite of recent publicity over lead-tainted drinking water in NJ schools and hospitals. Legislators on Monday rapped the DEP on the wrists for its snail-like response, but stopped short of passing a bill that would have required the department to set the standards within 60 days. NJ Spotlight has the full story. Possibly Higher Gas Bills South Jersey Gas customers (about 70 percent of Atlantic County homes, apparently) could see their bill rise by $20 a month, according to the company’s latest rate-hike request filed with New Jersey’s regulator. South Jersey Gas says it needs the money to pay it back for improvement work its done to local infrastructure, as well as to meet growing demand (story here via The Press of Atlantic City).
If you’ve spent any time on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook lately and you’re in the Atlantic City area, you’ve probably come across the bold red logo or seen the hashtag #ThisIsAC. Maybe, like us, you thought it was some marketing effort by one of our many quasi-governmental overlords in these parts. But you, like us, would be wrong. #ThisIsAC was formed by a few people who just really, really care about Atlantic City. We went to meet them.
*Winter Weather Advisory in effect through noon. The forecast is for some lingering snow showers later today, but tomorrow will be warmer and brighter.*
Conventions Funding The group that runs Atlantic City’s convention center will also have to tighten its belt this year amid the city-wide financial crisis – or at least, a little. The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), which funds the group known as Meet AC, is cutting the group’s budget to $7 million this year. That’s a reduction of 12.5 percent or $1 million, which maybe doesn’t seem like such a raw deal given the city’s mega debt load and compared to the aggressive cuts the state apparently wants the police and fire departments to make. The problem is, as The Press of Atlantic City reports here, bringing new visitors into Atlantic City is crucial to boosting city revenue and helping pay down that crippling debt.
This week the Atlantic City Police Department faced a dilemma that’s becoming sadly too familiar: The city of 39,000 saw six deaths from drug overdoses in the span of seven days. On Wednesday, officers responded to six overdose calls between the hours of 4:00 pm and 10:00 pm alone. Two of those overdoses were fatal. The other four people were saved, temporarily at least, by first responders who administered the opioid antagonist Narcan, which blocks opioid receptors and stops the effects on someone overdosing on heroin or heroin-related drugs like OxyContin or hydrocodone. The ACPD took the sensible step of making a public safety announcement that a “potentially bad batch” of heroin was circulating in the Atlantic City area.
Property Taxes NJSpotlight has another fantastic interactive map on their site today that compares property tax bills across the state. The map is fascinating since it compares the average property tax bill by municipality, not the actual tax rate. By average tax bill, Atlantic City looks pretty reasonable compared with Linwood, Northfield, Longport and Margate. But as we all know around here, Atlantic City’s tax rate is through the roof ($3.859 per $100 of taxable assessed value, according to this Department of Community Affairs (DCA) data from 2016). Perhaps more surprisingly, though, if you look at the raw data here on the DCA site, Mullica Township and Egg Harbor City’s tax rates are even higher (at $4.533 and $4.41).
We’re interested in talking to people whose lives have been affected by the opioid epidemic here in South Jersey, and we’ve put together a short questionnaire–a few basic questions and a request you tell us your story. We won’t know who you are unless you leave your name (and that’s optional), but we’re hoping this will be a way to start to connect with people who can educate us on this story, so we can cover it responsibly. If your life’s been touched by drug abuse, and you want to talk to us, let us know. And maybe consider sharing with your networks. Thanks, Route Forty Loading…
It’s a sign-of-the-times story. Successful local conglomerate tries to refit struggling bus parking lot as urban RV park. When that fails, it opens a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic. In another sign of the times, the zoning board unanimously approves the renovation plan and there is no public comment. Where is this happening?
Takeover Talk We’re on day 77 of the state takeover of Atlantic City and there has been no announcement of any plan the state has for its newest ward. So, understandably, the state says it is annoyed that there are rumors circulating. But, while there’s no official plan, we do know that associates of Gov Christie’s takeover czar Jeffrey Chiesa (who hasn’t been officially seen in town since November) have been talking to police and fire representatives about job cuts. We also know – thanks to Christian Hetrick’s Press of Atlantic City reporting – that Senator Jim Whalen and Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (who sponsored the takeover bill last year) are concerned about those cuts leaving Atlantic City with a potentially dangerous reduction in firefighters. John Wisniewski, governor candidate and chair of the New Jersey Fire Commission, is also concerned by the reports.
Pinelands Protest Local residents and representatives from the Pinelands Preservation Alliance and environmental groups packed yesterday’s hearing on a proposed gas pipeline that would run through the protected forest area. The turnout was so impressive that about 100 people were left standing outside the hearing, in the bitter cold and rain yesterday. What’s going on? NJ Spotlight has the best in-depth story from the day, which gives a lot of the political history to the proposal too. There are parallels with the Atlantic City takeover, since it boils down to a state organization (in this case, the Pinelands Commission with some commissioners directly appointed by the governor) in a battle with local representatives.
Trampolines We know you’ve always wanted something else to do with your kids/grandchildren/nieces/nephews around here, particularly when it’s not a beach day. How about a trampoline park? Yes, it’s real – opening in the fall of this year at the Hamilton mall. Route 40 has the story. Equality You’ve probably read by now Amy Rosenberg’s piece about the Atlantic County freeholder who joked whether the women’s marchers would end “in time for them to cook dinner?”