Atlantic City Skyline

ATLANTIC CITY — The city’s 2019 budget, as introduced by City Council this past month, cuts operating costs by nearly $26 million and keeps the municipal tax rate flat for another year.

The $207.7 million city budget represents an 11% decrease from last year. The city will collect more than $46 million from property taxes this year, nearly $6.5 million less than in 2018.

The municipal tax rate will remain $1.79 per $100 of assessed value. When combined with the county and school district, city residents’ effective tax rate in 2018 was $3.85 per $100 of assessed value.

“We believe this year’s city budget continues to move Atlantic City in a positive and financially prudent direction,” said Lisa Ryan, spokeswomen for the state Department of Community Affairs, which oversees the city. “The city and state were able to keep the tax rate flat by carefully scrutinizing each city department’s budget to tighten up salaries and expenditures and by analyzing other expenditures in the budget to ensure there were no excesses.”

Council voted unanimously to introduce the 2019 budget during its meeting May 15. Mayor Frank Gilliam Jr. was scheduled to present the budget to the governing body that evening, but an emergency water main break on Albany Avenue led to his absence.

Gilliam’s office declined to discuss the budget when contacted last week, stating the mayor would “be giving his budget address during the June council meeting and would rather wait to make comments.”

A public hearing on the 2019 municipal budget will take place during the June 19 council meeting.

The city has budgeted for anticipated additional revenue from both the casino payment-in-lieu-of-taxes program ($549,435), the investment alternative tax ($7.11 million) and energy receipts tax ($3.34 million).

However, the city is losing nearly $5 million of leftover funds from the now-defunct Atlantic City Alliance.

The city’s administration department is cutting nearly $3.48 million from last year’s appropriations. Budgets for the Revenue and Finance Department (-$68,447) and Public Works Department (-$892,639) also are being cut.

Planning and Development will receive an additional $340,000, public safety will get an increase of $597,000 and an additional $86,000 has been allocated for licensing and inspections.

The city’s debt service for 2019 increased by $1.024 million. Last year, Atlantic City’s debt service was $34.3 million.

The final casino tax appeal settlement is also budgeted for 2019. A nearly $1.24 million payment to settle an appeal from the former Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, now Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, is budgeted for this year.

“The city’s property-tax appeal reserve fund was sufficiently funded in 2018 and did not require an additional allocation in the proposed budget,” Ryan said. “The decrease in the total amount to be collected by taxes this year is a result of a decline in the assessed property values, mainly resulting from the city’s property tax appeal with the Hard Rock casino and its inclusion in the casino PILOT.”

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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