Financially strapped Atlantic City scraped together enough money to make a $1.8 million bond payment Monday morning, narrowly avoiding becoming the first New Jersey municipality to default on its debt in 78 years.
Mayor Don Guardian likened the city’s desperate state to rummaging around the sofa cushions in search of stray cash and said the payment was made at 10 a.m. That was an hour before a news conference at which the mayor came out swinging against a proposed state takeover.
“Financially, we’re running on fumes,” Guardian said. “We really are teetering on the edge.”
The city is suing the state, trying to get $33 million in aid it says it was promised, but that the state has, thus far, withheld. Guardian said he does not know if the city will be able to make a June bond payment. The city was expected to receive its next tax payments Monday.
The city’s finances are reeling from the contraction of its largest taxpayer, the casino industry, which saw four of its 12 casinos shut down in 2014. But many state officials also say generations of Atlantic City governments spent lavishly while casino revenues were rolling in.