Boat Payouts If you’re at all interested in your property taxes, you should check out this amazing NJ Spotlight map from yesterday. The map looks at how much towns across New Jersey owe public workers for not taking their sick day entitlement. The amount was capped at $15,000 in 2010, but anyone hired before that is entitled to a payout that has become known as a ‘boat payout’. We all know that Atlantic City has a problem, but take a look at Brigantine and Margate on the map. Brigantine last year had to put aside $500,000 in reserves for its unused sick pay liability – and its employees have racked up a massive $5.1 million in owed payouts.
Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian is optimistic the city’s skate park, mysteriously demolished on Wednesday, can be rebuilt for the summer. Mayor Guardian met earlier on Thursday with Jason Klotz, one of the original architects of the informal park known as Back Sov, to talk about how the project can be rebuilt to code. The park, which had been used by skaters from in and around the city, was assembled over the course of a few years on an old street hockey rink on Sovereign Avenue, overlooking the bay. Klotz and his colleagues will attend the city’s planning board meeting next week to present their plans for the new park, Mayor Guardian said. The Mayor was impressed that Klotz already had funding and volunteers organized to do the work.
Skate Park There was a skate park in Atlantic City on Sovereign Avenue by the bay. It wasn’t built to code – any code – so someone decided to bring it down yesterday. Of course, personal injury claims are a liability for municipalities. But in Atlantic City’s history, claims brought by deep-pocketed casinos who don’t like their tax bills have been a much bigger liability. Also arguably, having vacant and abandoned skyscrapers littering a town, while the state is forcibly downsizing the same town’s emergency services, is another big liability.
AC Brewery The Press of Atlantic City interviews Christopher DeWalt, who has secured over $1 million in state tax credits to relocate his brewery from Pennsylvania to AC – where it will be right next door to Little Water Distillery in the inlet. “Getting state funding is not an easy deal for anyone, but Atlantic City made the pain much easier to deal with because they were there every step of the way,” DeWalt said. His plan includes bringing 15 employees to the city by the end of the first year and employing 85 to 100 workers at the end of his 10-year tax credit program. Money & Politics NJ Spotlight profiles the executive director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) which yesterday held its first full meeting in almost a year, after waiting on Gov. Chris Christie to nominate replacements to fill two empty seats. ELEC is charged with overseeing campaign finance filings from the roughly 6,000 political candidates in the state (!) and it also handles quarterly and annual lobbyist filings.
Bike Share Scheme Ventnor’s Vince Sacco is working to bring a bike-share scheme Downbeach that will function using an app to unlock one of 10 bikes at a preliminary five bike stations spread between Ventnor, Margate and Longport, The Press of Atlantic City reports. We are all in. This is Elinor writing (good morning!) and I lived in London and New York when bike-share programs were brought in there, with a lot of success in spite of doubters. I also used a bike share to commute to work while we lived in Mexico City for several years, where it was also successful. I would be a big user if it starts here – and I’d love to see it extend eventually to Atlantic City.
Beach Smoking Ban Longport has passed an ordinance to stop smoking on its beach, The Current reports. There will be fines for violations, but residents at the Longport Board of Commissioners’ meetings said that the ban is worthless unless it is enforced. Others at the meeting, however, pointed out that the ban will prevent health problems associated with second-hand smoke while having fewer cigarette butts around will help to keep the beach clean. Aviation Training Course Delay A new program that would train and certify students in aircraft maintenance at the Atlantic City International Airport has been delayed. Some county officials had hoped to have the program ready in June, but it will now likely be up and running by the end of the year, wrote John De Rosier for The Press of Atlantic City.
FAA Tech Center Budget In Play Thousands of federal employees and contractors at the Tech Center are waiting for budget details that could affect the future of Atlantic County’s great non-gaming employment hope. Amy Rosenberg of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes that Rep. Frank LoBiondo is also keenly aware of potential funding issues coming up at the center, which could also see changes if a Trump plan to privatize air-traffic control comes into effect. Read more on what’s at stake here. Linwood Teacher Case Linwood municipal court will hear a case against Kimberly Peschi, 40, a teacher at Bell Haven School, who is accused of kicking a student’s chair out from under him, which caused him to hit his head on the ground. There were witnesses to the incident, which was also captured on the school’s camera system, Lynda Cohen of Breaking AC reports here, adding that the parents and Board of Education members have all seen the video. CRDA Layoffs The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, locally infamous for its splashy spending on ill-fated projects (laser lighthouse, uber alles?), has cut 15 percent of its workforce, Nick Huba reports for The Press of Atlantic City.
As an Atlantic City and Atlantic County resident there are things I’ve noticed:
It seems to me, the state takeover did not become unconstitutional within the county offices until it impacted negatively on the amount of money the county would receive. What was it before? It seems to me, people in Atlantic City are getting tickets and don’t even see the meters. To many, they don’t look like meters, and aren’t at every spot. We should take lessons from successful towns up and down the coast and suspend parking fees in the winter, with possible exceptions, like the walk area, or holiday weekends. In winter, we inhabit a virtual ghost town and have few visitors.
Shrinking Population Atlantic County has seen more than 3,700 people leave in the last two years, according to new county-level population estimates published by the U.S. Census Bureau today. People started leaving Atlantic County in 2014, when four casinos closed, but the rate of departures increased in 2015 and 2016. We mapped how the county compares to other South Jersey counties here. Interestingly, Gloucester County is the only one in the region with a population that has grown since 2010, while in Salem and Cape May counties the death rate is outstripping the birth rate. Petition to Save AC Water Authority
The Press of Atlantic City’s Christian Hetrick reports on a citizen effort to force a referendum of any sale of the water authority.