New Jersey Has Shelled Out Over $6 Million For Atlantic City Oversight

New Jersey’s Division of Law has spent $6.3 million with six consulting and law firms hired for projects related to Atlantic City’s oversight since March 2015, according to invoices released in response to a public records request. The invoices are heavily redacted so it is hard to glean details of the lucrative advisory work, but they show that many more thousands of dollars have been spent on unspecified consulting and takeover-related litigation than on monetizing Atlantic City’s few remaining assets. Just over half of that money was spent with Ernst & Young, which was hired in 2015 to analyze the city’s finances. The West Orange law firm Chiesa, Shahinian & Giantomasi, which was appointed by the state in November to run Atlantic City has charged $2.4 million for six months of work on everything from city council agendas to waste management and litigation, the documents show. You can download a copy of the database compiled by Route 40, with links to each invoice, here.

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State Auditor Wrapping Up Complex CRDA Report

The State Auditor’s office is in the final stages of a probe of finances and performance at Atlantic City’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, after a longer-than-expected investigation. Auditors from the office began looking into CRDA’s books and records last year for the first time in the Authority’s history. “It’s taking a little bit more time than we initially thought,” said John Termyna, assistant state auditor, in an interview last month. “It became more comprehensive,” he said, adding the extended investigation was “because of some of the things that we got into.” Termyna said he would not go into details about the findings of the audit before it is published.

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Boardwalk Hall, Convention Biz Falls as Casinos Take More of the Meeting Pie

Good news: Atlantic City attracted more visitors last year! Bad news: They mostly weren’t going to Boardwalk Hall or the Atlantic City Convention Center. Worse news: They mostly went to casinos in the Marina District! Where they’re isolated from the city! Atlantic City, which is struggling to pay its bills after five casinos closed since 2014, was taken over by the state at the end of last year.

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Why Did The Casino Association Ask A Norcross To Lobby CRDA?

The Casino Association of New Jersey last year hired Philip Norcross, brother of Democrat power-broker George, to lobby the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) on the topic of “economic development,” according to lobbying records. In recent years, Atlantic City casinos have received millions of dollars from CRDA for investments in their own properties, but last year, as part of the city takeover legislation, CRDA saw that chunk of its budget diverted to pay off city debt. A spokeswoman for The Casino Association of New Jersey, which includes all seven of Atlantic City’s remaining gaming properties, declined to give any details on its lobbying activity. A spokeswoman for CRDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment and Norcross did not return messages left on Friday. The lobbying records show that Norcross’ Optimus Partners also lobbied the legislature on behalf of the Casino Association on the topic of the takeover legislation.

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Stockton Aviation Park Engineer Bumps Up Contract Cost, Again

The engineering company responsible for the design of the new Stockton Aviation Research and Technology Park has requested more money for the job, raising the total contract cost by 9 percent. The additional costs are connected with work that was not included in the original scope of the project, according to a letter sent by AECOM, the international engineering company carrying out the work, to the Atlantic County Improvement Authority (ACIA). The ACIA approved the request last month. The new work, worth $28,031, takes the total cost of the job up to $766,421.00. A previous change order, approved by the ACIA in August, gave AECOM an additional $41,234.00.

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State Could Use Water Authority Advisor’s Blueprint For Valuation, Sale

In May last year Atlantic City’s water authority hired advisory firm Acacia Financial Group to craft a concession agreement that would help the authority both retain its independence and stave off a state takeover of the city. Acacia Financial helped draft two 100-page-plus documents chock-full of inside information and financial details but just a few months later it abruptly ended its $20,000 contract with the water authority because it had accepted another contract – with the New Jersey department that held state-takeover powers. New Jersey, now tasked with plucking Atlantic City from its financial death spiral, is sitting on a detailed plan that would help potential buyers put a price on one of the casino resort’s few remaining assets: its water authority. What’s more, the plan calculates the future water-rate rises that might be possible for the authority. “Their analysis sets forth what a combined rate structure could be, given a concession model,” said Bruce Ward, executive director of the Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority said in an interview last month.

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Tax Filing Shows ACDevCo Had No Staff, Little Income In 2015

The non-profit development company behind the $206 million project to build Stockton University an Atlantic City campus was little more than a shell company in 2015, with no staff and a tiny revenue eked out from parking fees, according to its latest tax filing. The Atlantic City Development Corp, founded in February 2015 by New Brunswick Development Corp’s President Chris Paladino and three colleagues from the Governor’s Commission on New Jersey Gaming, Sports and Entertainment, lost money in its first year and its only revenue came from charging the Knife & Fork restaurant $7,500 for the lease of a parking lot. Route 40 requested the filing from Paladino’s office last year. The ACDevCo did, however, hold land worth $11.7 million, including a 9.5-acre package it acquired in 2015 for the Stockton project. “One of the lots had been leased to the owner of the Knife and Fork for restaurant parking for a number of years,” Paladino explained in an email.

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