Christie Signs Financial Rescue Package for Atlantic City

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (AP) -

Gov. Chris Christie on Friday signed a package of bills to keep financially troubled Atlantic City from running out of cash.

The Democratic-led Assembly and Senate approved the measures by wide margins the day before, giving the governor the authority to reform Atlantic City’s “overblown municipal government.”

The deal ended a nearly five-month-long political fight that pushed the resort city toward bankruptcy and spared it 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, Christie said.

“For Atlantic City officials, the final countdown starts today,” he said. “They now have 150 days to develop and implement fiscally responsible reforms and finally meet the obligations of every other municipal government in our state.”

Atlantic City has had a state monopoly on casinos, but its tax base has contracted since four of its 12 casinos closed. Its Republican mayor, Don Guardian, called the deal “huge.”

“We want people to know the shore is open for business,” he said.