Atlantic City Rescue Package Goes to Christie

TRENTON (AP) -

New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday sent Gov. Chris Christie legislation to keep Atlantic City from running out of cash, throwing the financially-strapped resort a life preserver.

The Democrat-led Assembly and state Senate approved the measures by wide margins. Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who earlier supported legislation allowing for an immediate state takeover of the city’s finances, has said the bill gives him the authority he needs. He stopped short of saying whether he will sign the bill, but said he will decide quickly.

“It’s huge,” Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, a Republican, said. “We want people to know the shore is open for business.”

The deal, reached earlier this week, ended a nearly five-month-long political fight that pushed the resort toward bankruptcy and spared the city from an immediate state takeover for at least five months. The city government has five months to draw up plans to balance its books over the next five years.

Atlantic City will get temporary loans of $30 million for the remainder of this year; $30 million to be applied to leftover 2015 debt, and another $15 million for 2017. The city also would be able to get at least $120 million each year from casinos under a payment-in-lieu of taxes bill.

It also could offer early retirement to its workers and retain its collective bargaining rights.