Though state Superior Court Judge Joseph L. Marczyk had strongly recommended it, the state of New Jersey has declined to enter into mediation with Atlantic County about the new payment in lieu of taxes program. The county wants the state to honor the previous PILOT bill they had jointly agreed to in 2018, which guaranteed the county 13.5% of casino tax payments through 2024. The new legislation could cost the county millions of dollars:
“At no time throughout this process, including the writing of the bill, its movement through the state Legislature and its signing by the governor, has anyone from the state, the casinos or Atlantic City picked up the phone to discuss this issue with me or anyone affiliated with county government and we are a primary stakeholder in this issue,” said [Atlantic County Executive Dennis] Levinson.
Levinson added, “We should be working to find a fair and equitable solution that will keep our taxpayers whole. That is what we previously negotiated to do. I question why this new legislation was needed and why it was rushed through without any discussion,” he said. “And I would ask the public to consider why the state does not see fit to mediate and settle this dispute without costing our taxpayers even more time and money to return to court.” concluded Levinson.
At the end of January, Matthew Doherty is set to exit his role as executive director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. Doherty had been recruited by Gov. Phil Murphy to head the agency four years ago. He will be leaving for a job in the private sector:
Doherty, the former Mayor of Belmar, received high praise for his handling of the area’s recovery after Superstorm Sandy ten years ago, with the town becoming the first at the Jersey Shore to rebuild its boardwalk after the storm.
“It has been a pleasure to serve in the Murphy Administration and I thank Gov. Murphy, and the CRDA board for this opportunity the past four years,” said Doherty. “I see remarkable potential in Atlantic City and I believe there will be a renaissance in the city over the next five to ten years.”
A new bill, S264, was introduced in the state Senate in another attempt to ban smoking in Atlantic City casinos. The legislation will most likely come to a vote within the next couple of months. State Sen. Vince Polistina (R-Atlantic) is the only Republican to back the measure, but he said that he believes Atlantic City casinos have become profitable enough to fully ban smoking rather than limit it to 25% of a casino floor. Smoking had been banned temporarily during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the ban had been lifted in summer 2021, while various lawmakers have been trying to make the ban permanent:
In December, hundreds of casino employees marched on Trenton, calling for legislators to move the bill. Most continue pressing lawmakers to act to protect their health since casino workers are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke than other types of workers.
Nicole Vitola, a dealer at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and co-leader of Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects (CEASE), said Wednesday their fight will continue as long as smoking is allowed in casinos.
“Every day we go to work, we risk our health getting worse and worse,” Vitola said in a statement. “Especially during yet another wave of COVID cases in our state, this is unacceptable. It’s time to get this bill passed as soon as possible, so that we no longer have to choose between our health and a paycheck.”
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