Atlantic County is looking for a law firm to challenge a law that shrunk Atlantic City casinos’ tax payments and increased the property tax burden on homeowners and businesses.
The county wants a law firm to “challenge the constitutionality of the Casino Property Tax Stabilization Act,” according to the request for proposals published on Thursday. The lawyers could be asked to seek an injunction “against the further implementation of the act.”
Sealed bids are due on May 23 and any successful bidder would be awarded a 12-month contract.
The law was agreed almost a year ago but did not come into effect until New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs declared Atlantic City in need of “stabilization” in November. It is also known as the PILOT Act because it fixed payments in lieu of taxes for the taxes. County officials say that homeowners and businesses will be paying higher taxes in most municipalities because the county gets a smaller share of casino taxes under the Act.
County Executive Dennis Levinson expects it will be difficult to challenge the special interests supporting the Act, according to a letter he published in The Press of Atlantic City last month. But he added, “Even if we lose, the depositions should be very interesting.”
Five casinos have closed since 2014 in Atlantic City. The county, wracked by foreclosures and rising poverty rates, has seen a decade of economic stagnation.