Atlantic City Expressway, Pleasantville Toll Plaza

The South Jersey Transportation Authority held the first of three online public hearings on toll hikes for the Atlantic City Expressway on Monday. In this file photo, cars approach the Pleasantville toll plaza on the Atlantic City Expressway.

ATLANTIC CITY — The recent property tax increase has forced city officials to consider new ways of generating revenue, which may bring back a once-dismissed idea.

Mayor Frank Gilliam Jr. agrees with Council President Marty Small Sr.’s proposal to increase the toll at the Pleasantville plaza on the Atlantic City Expressway and allow the city to keep the difference.

“Councilman Small makes a great point,” Gilliam said Tuesday while addressing ways the city can raise revenue to offset the rising tax burden on property owners. “We have to look at new, innovative ways to bring revenue into the city.”

The agency that oversees the expressway has told city officials toll money cannot be used that way.

Gilliam and Small challenged one another in the 2017 Democratic primary and have occasionally been at odds over policy issues, such as the timely disbursement of endowment funds.

Recently, the two city leaders have found common ground in budgetary issues and opposing an effort to alter the city’s form of government.

“I wholeheartedly appreciate Mayor Gilliam’s support in this measure,” Small said. “It’s important that people see that the governing body and the executive branch in the city are in accord for the residents.”

In May 2018, City Council passed a resolution requesting the South Jersey Transportation Authority — the state agency with oversight of the expressway — double the toll fare at Pleasantville from 75 cents to $1.50 and pass along the additional revenue to the city.

At the time, Small, who sponsored the resolution, estimated the city would collect $15 million annually.

The mayor, in 2018, said that while the intent of the proposal was “honorable,” it was not something he supported.

The SJTA, in response to the city’s resolution, said toll revenue is not for any other purpose than operating and maintaining the expressway.

The toll proposal, among other revenue-generating ideas, was reintroduced Sept. 10 during a meeting of the recently created city tax task force, according to people in attendance. The meeting, which took place in City Hall behind closed doors, included Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Special Counsel Jim Johnson, Atlantic County Counsel James Ferguson, Casino Reinvestment Development Authority Executive Director Matt Doherty, state Deputy Treasurer Catherine Brennan, Gilliam, Small and several other state, county and local officials.

“We’re exploring all things that make sense, all things in the best interest of the hard-working taxpayers in the City of Atlantic City. We have to get this right,” Small said Tuesday.

Contact: 609-272-7222

Twitter @ACPressDanzis

Staff Writer

I cover Atlantic City government and the casino industry since joining The Press in early 2018. I formerly worked as a politics & government reporter for NJ Herald and received the First Amendment: Art Weissman Memorial NJPA Award two years in a row.

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