Atlantic City leaders meet to consider declaring bankruptcy

 Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian will meet with members of City Council Tuesday to discuss the possibility of declaring municipal bankruptcy in the town known for its Boardwalk. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian will meet with members of City Council Tuesday to discuss the possibility of declaring municipal bankruptcy in the town known for its Boardwalk. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian will meet with members of City Council Tuesday to discuss the possibility of declaring municipal bankruptcy in an effort to stay financially afloat.

The meeting comes just weeks after state Sen. President Steve Sweeney, a South Jersey Democrat, sponsored a bill to place the distressed city under state control.

“We have said that we do not want to file for bankruptcy,” said Councilman Kaleem Shabazz, who represents the city’s 3rd Ward. “But we have to protect the stability of Atlantic City. And it’s our sworn duty as elected officials to do whatever we can to protect the safety of the citizens of Atlantic City.”

Even if local officials wanted to declare bankruptcy, they would first need state approval, which could be a tough sell.

Guardian, who opposes a state takeover, said New Jersey officials should continue allowing Atlantic City to work on solving its own problems.

“How foolish is that — when we have a casino industry that is willing to redirect funds from the state to the city to solve the problems? They’d rather find money from the rest of the state to give to Atlantic City,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to us.”

Gov. Chris Christie recently rejected two bills aimed at rescuing Atlantic City’s finances, including legislation that would have allowed casinos to pay a lump sum in taxes each year.

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