Atlantic City’s worst days over, N.J. lieutenant governor declares

Casinos are seen along the Atlantic City boardwalk. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Casinos are seen along the Atlantic City boardwalk. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey’s fiscal oversight of Atlantic City is working and the city’s worst days are over, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver has declared.

Oliver, who also serves as the commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, said 18 months of state oversight have helped Atlantic City make progress in dealing with its debt, its health and pension obligations, and its ability to attract investment in new development projects.

But Atlantic City will have to continue to stay on track, according to Oliver, before the city can manage its own budget.

“The state will not relinquish oversight in the near term,” she said. “However, the ultimate goal is to return to local control and decision making back to the city as soon as it has the capacity to run on its own.”

When the state took over the city’s fiscal management, it began as an adversarial relationship. That’s changed, Oliver said.

“We believe that our role should be more of technical assistance, oversight, helping the city build a leadership capacity to be able to find its own way. And we think that we are establishing the platform to do that,” she said.

Current law calls for a five-year state intervention. If the legislature decides that’s not required, Oliver said, lawmakers could pursue legislation to change that.

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