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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Twilight Zone

 What’s Keeping the South Inlet Empty? In mid-August of last summer a real estate investor from Florida named Bruce Pender bought a small plot of land in the South Inlet neighborhood of Atlantic City. He paid $25,000 to acquire 206 S. Vermont Avenue, tax records show. The old owner, Seaview Property Development of Turnersville, had been sitting on the land since 2005. In real estate terms, this was one of the rarest commodities going: beachfront land about an hour’s drive from Philadelphia—two and a half hours (give or take) from New York City.

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Atlantic County Cuts Outpatient Rehab Services, Ups Spending On Halfway Houses

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.

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Teachers’ Union Spent Thousands Fighting AC School Vouchers

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.

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The Mysterious Death Of A Richland Oak

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.

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New York Outguns New Jersey in Casino Expansion Campaign

The campaign to oppose the expansion of casino gaming in the north of New Jersey was entirely funded by New York-based people and organizations, data analyzed by Route 40 shows. Even though a small chunk of the campaign’s funding came from an individual and company with ties to Atlantic City’s Resorts, the data suggests that it was New York interests that felt most threatened by the possible arrival of casinos to the north of New Jersey. You can download – for a small fee – here our full electronic database of expenses and contributions for both sides of the Public Question #1 campaigns. The Trenton’s Bad Bet campaign – which raised about $14.5 million in total – received $9 million from Genting Group, a Malaysian company that operates the Resorts World Casino NYC. A further $3.5 million came from Yonkers Racing, which operates the Empire City Casino, and Empire Resorts which operates the Monticello Raceway, according to data obtained from filings made to date with the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).

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CRDA, Miss America And Boardwalk Hall

The Miss America Organization is getting 1,800 square feet of prime Atlantic City real estate from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority for $1,500 a month, according to CRDA, but the nonprofit pageant says it’s not a done deal. “We are currently in discussions, and there is no further information at this time,” said a spokesperson for the Miss America Organization in an email, after we sent them a copy of a CRDA press release announcing their new office-space arrangement. Miss America Organization currently has office space at The Claridge and it was not immediately clear what would happen to that space. CRDA said the lease, which will start in April, was signed between the organization and Spectra Venue Management, which operates Boardwalk Hall and The Convention Center. When we questioned the price of the lease, they told us that the office space is “not upscale or highly visible and it features no windows.”

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State begins audit of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority

The Office of the State Auditor has begun scrutinizing the books and records of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, an official told Route 40 on Tuesday. CRDA, an Atlantic City-based government agency responsible for investing casino taxes and other government funds for economic development, has spent $2 billion on state-wide projects since its 1984 inception but it has rarely been put under the microscope. A spokeswoman for CRDA declined to comment on the audit. Some of its biggest projects in the last few years have paid for casino expansions, including $15 million spent on the Borgata night club and private pool project last year and almost $19 million spent on Tropicana’s boardwalk “enhancement” in 2014. Adding to its influence in Atlantic City, CRDA has been tasked with land use regulation and enforcement in the Tourism District (which includes the casino areas) since 2011.

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