Atlantic City retained control over what little cash it still has on hand Friday, as a judge rejected an attempt by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration to freeze the city’s assets until it pays the school system what it owes.
Hours after the city made a payroll payment that the state sought to block, the state Education Department asked a judge to prevent the city from spending any more money until it makes an $8.4 million payment to the schools, which are due $34 million by July 15.
But Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez refused, giving both sides until April 19 to try to work out a deal.
“I wish I had a magic wand here today and I could fix this problem,” she said. “It seems to me the bottom line here is that there’s not enough money.”
That could be the city’s new slogan, as it lurches from one financial crisis to the next. It owes its top casino, the Borgata, over $170 million in tax appeals. It has a budget deficit of anywhere between $30 million and $100 million, depending on who is answering, and efforts to help it — while giving the state control over the city’s finances — are stalled in the Legislature.