Atlantic City: We can pay state loan back and still keep our water utility

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian announces a plan to generate $100 million. (Screen shot from USTREAM)

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian announces a plan to generate $100 million. (Screen shot from USTREAM)

Cash-strapped Atlantic City thinks it has found a way to pay off debt while fighting off a threatened state takeover.

Mayor Don Guardian says the city’s Municipal Utilities Authority will buy the city-owned former Bader Field airport property for about $100 million.

The city will use the money to pay down debt — a key demand from state officials who are threatening to take over the debt-laden resort.

Mayor Guardian says the purchase is just part of a seven-part financial recovery plan local officials are working on. “When you combine all seven facets you’re going to solve the program of the $500 million long term debt and the $100 million (debt) that we have annually.”

In fact, the mayor even said it was a smart move for the water utilility to buy a piece of land that could grow in value. “The concept of monetizing is really for the MUA to pay back this debt until the time that Bader Field is worth two, three, four, five times the value it is now. So in 10, 15, 20  yeras the MUA will be seen as geniuses in terms of finances because this is going to be a good investment.”

It also will keep the much-coveted water utility out of state or private hands.

State officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Atlantic City is nearing default on a $73 million emergency state loan, but says there is more than enough money to pay it off.

Bader Field was the first aviation facility to be called an “airport.”

WHYY’s Phil Gregory contributed to this story.

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