State Sues Atlantic City as Finances Unravel

Lawsuit says money should go to schools, not employees.
Atlantic City at dusk, November 2014

Photo | Dan McQuade

The state of New Jersey is suing Atlantic City, trying to force the municipality to make payments to the city’s public schools instead of making a scheduled payment to employees on Friday.

NJ.com quotes Gov. Chris Christie: “This won’t fix the city’s own financial problems. But it will prevent them from making Atlantic City students and their families collateral damage to their reckless financial games.”

ABC News reports the city owes the district $34 million through July. The lawsuit aims to put the school district “at the front of the line” for any money that Atlantic City, with its foundering casinos, can scrape together. 

“Our goal is to safeguard the necessary local funding for the schools in Atlantic City and to ensure that students continue to receive an education,” the New Jersey Department of Education said in a separate statement.

NJ Spotlight adds that city leaders “have been working with the school district for over a year to delay turning over the property tax revenue” to give the city financial flexibility during tough times.

“I can assure you we’re not going to play politics with our kids,” Mayor Don Guardian said. “We’re going to make sure they are taken care of.”