Following executive orders from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, an emergency manager will begin formulating plans to stabilize Atlantic City’s finances.
Four casinos closed in 2014, precipitating a drop in the tax base and leaving thousands unemployed.
Kevin Lavin, a corporate restructuring specialist, will have broad powers as emergency manager to develop a long-term financial plan and adjust the city’s debt.
Kevyn Orr, who helped guide Detroit through bankruptcy, was appointed his special counsel. Orr says they’ll work with Atlantic City officials.
“The residents in the city need to understand you still have a mayor, you still have a council, and we want to work very closely with them,” Orr said.
But City Council President Frank Gilliam is wary.
“We haven’t really figured out what their powers are. We’re open to work with them, but at the same time anytime that they tend to basically usurp our power we definitely have problems with that,” he said.
The appointments are not meant to marginalize the role of Mayor Don Guardian and the city council, Christie said.
“I have great respect for the mayor. He has inherited an awful mess and he is working hard to try to fix it,” he said. “What we are doing is giving to the mayor, through the emergency manager, enhanced tools to be able to bring this to a successful resolution.”
For his part, Guardian said he’s trying to determine exactly what powers the governor’s executive order gives to the emergency manager.
“We’re going to work as cooperatively as we can, as we have in the past, to move us forward, but we don’t know what their jurisdiction is right now other than they’re going to be working with us,” he said.
The emergency manager is expected to come up with a plan within 60 days.