ATLANTIC CITY — The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority adopted its 2019 operating budget Tuesday with increased investments for the city.
The $6.7 million budget is a 10 percent increase from last year, largely due to increases in medical benefits and payroll, said Executive Director Matt Doherty.
“Keeping the CRDA on firm financial foundation allows us to continue to fund meaningful community projects while engaging potential new investors in attractions and events,” Doherty said.
Included in the budget appropriations was funding for an additional 45 Class II police officers on Pacific and Atlantic avenues, money to launch the Atlantic City Project Office, which will facilitate and coordinate recommendations contained in the state’s report for transitioning government back to local officials, and matching grant funding for a streetscape project on Tennessee Avenue.
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“The budget actions that we’re asking the board to take today I believe reflect sound business practice and the commitment to fulfilling Gov. (Phil) Murphy’s vision for a new prosperity in Atlantic City,” said Board Chairman Robert Mulcahy. “The CRDA and the state are delivering quality-of-life improvements while also encouraging greater private investment.”
In 2018, the state agency had a budget of $6.8 million, which included marketing and the Convention Center Division budgets. For 2019, those two items were pulled from the agency’s operating budget, which will now only include the firehouse offices and CRDA’s contribution to the Special Improvement District.
The Convention Center Division, which also oversees Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall, has a budget of $9.475 million for 2019.
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The 2019 marketing budget is proposed at $5.14 million, with the potential for $5.7 million in revenue generation from local taxes, advertising sales and an additional tax on sports betting signed by Murphy in October.
“It seems to make sense to now put some money behind all the incredibly positive things happening in the city,” said Doherty. “So we’re going to be much more aggressive in marketing the city at this point.”
CRDA also approved a budget for Meet AC, the resort’s convention and visitors bureau. The 2018 budget for Meet AC was $7.2 million, with $6.5 million of that coming from CRDA funding. For 2019, Meet AC requested $7.8 million from CRDA, with the increase largely associated with a desire to increase marketing and promotion of esports in Atlantic City.
The state agency also approved a plan by Showboat Atlantic City owner Bart Blatstein to convert 400 hotel rooms into 264 market-rate rental units. The Showboat, which now operates as a non-gambling hotel, will have 785 hotel rooms remaining to be rented to guests, he said.