Compromise deal on Atlantic City rescue set for Thursday vote

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The New Jersey  Legislature will vote on a tentative deal to avert the state takeover of Atlantic City. (NewsWorks file photo)

The New Jersey Legislature will vote on a tentative deal to avert the state takeover of Atlantic City. (NewsWorks file photo)

New Jersey lawmakers have reached agreement on a plan to deal with Atlantic City’s financial crisis without the need for an immediate state takeover.

The Assembly and Senate plan to vote Thursday on compromise legislation giving the city 150 days to develop a plan to reduce costs and balance its budget over the next five years.

The plan does not eliminate collective bargaining rights for unionized city workers, said Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto.

“Obviously, the town has to negotiate with them in good faith on whatever they can, whether it’s through early retirements or anything else, to get their house in order,” said Prieto, D-Hudson. “But it’s not eliminating taking collective bargaining on Day One and putting them on the chopping block.”

The city will get a temporary state loan to help it eliminate its current deficit.

Mayor Don Guardian said it’s now up to the city to improve its finances and keep its sovereignty.

“I don’t believe that we need a state takeover,” the Republican Guardian said. “I didn’t think it was going to be effective. And I think, now, this type of partnership with the state helping us with finances but holding our feet to the fire to reduce our costs is how we move forward.”

If Atlantic City mismanages its budget during the five year period, the legislation allows the state to intervene.

The compromise follows weeks of disagreement between the leaders of New Jersey’s Senate and Assembly.

If it passes, Prieto said, Gov. Chris Christie is expected to sign it.

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