A plan aimed at stabilizing Atlantic City’s tax base has passed the New Jersey Assembly and now awaits a vote in state Senate early this month.
The controversial proposal gives casinos a break from property taxes for 15 years, and requires them to pay a lump sum instead.
One of the biggest financial drains on Atlantic City since four casinos closed has been casino property tax appeals.
The remaining casinos have won every appeal, since their assessed values have plummeted. In turn, the city has shelled out nearly $400 million in refunds to casino operators.
The plan in front of the state Senate would halt the appeals.
Mayor Don Guardian says Atlantic City’s future depends on the proposal passing.
“It brings some sureness of what we’re going to get from casinos after several years for everyone else, meaning residents and businesses,” Guardian said. “The tax base has eroded because casinos had been assessed too high and were winning tax appeals year after year after year.”
Guardian says it’s not like the casinos would be getting off easy. The remaining eight gaming halls would collectively pay $150 million a year into city coffers the first two years. And then they will have to pay $120 million annually for the remaining 13 years.
Financial analysts say without this measure, it’s all but certain Atlantic City would go bankrupt.