One of the city water towers sits next to the Horace J. Bryant Jr. MUA building in Atlantic City where pipes are stored. Wednesday February 24 2016 Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority, (The Press of Atlantic City / Ben Fogletto)

Ben Fogletto / Staff Photographer

ATLANTIC CITY -- In the latest twist to the city’s ongoing financial drama, the Municipal Utilities Authority has agreed to buy Bader Field for at least $100 million, officials announced Monday.

The prized water works would bond to buy the 143-acre former airport, officials said at a news conference at the authority. Officials touted the move as a way to generate much-needed money for the city while keeping the water system in public hands.

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The authority, which provides the city’s drinking water, is financially independent of the city, deriving nearly all of its revenue from ratepayers. City and state officials have previously considered dissolving, leasing or selling the water system to raise money for the broke city.

The authority's assets and any proceeds of a Bader Field sale are collateral for a $73 million state loan agreement. The city risks defaulting on that loan and has until Oct. 3 to initiate dissolution of the authority as required by the loan terms. The state could demand immediate repayment of the loan, seize collateral or withhold state aid if the city misses next week’s deadline.

The loan was part of a bill that gave the city until Nov. 3 to submit a five-year fiscal recovery plan to the state. The plan’s rejection would result in a five-year state takeover of the city’s finances and major decision-making powers.

Council has voted down or pulled measures to dissolve the authority five times. The city’s inaction on the water utility was cited by state officials pursuing the state takeover.

This story is developing.


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