Atlantic City Mayor Guardian Discusses PILOT Plan

August 27, 2015
Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian spoke with NJTV News Correspondent David Cruz about the AC PILOT Program.

Better news for Atlantic City. Revenue at remaining casinos is up. Resorts Casino is even opening a new multi-million dollar conference center, but legislation that would provide a reliable revenue stream — by fixing the tax rate casinos pay –is sitting unsigned on Gov. Chris Christie’s desk, to the consternation of Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian. Guardian told NJTV News Correspondent David Cruz that the PILOT payment program may be sitting on the governor’s desk but that there are a lot of things still up in the air on the future of Atlantic City.

“And so there’s lots of balls that were in the air in order to bring Atlantic City back,” said Guardian. “Some of them we’ve taken care of here locally. What’s critical for us in Atlantic City is the $30 million that was going to the Atlantic City Alliance. This market entity, not spent this year so the casinos have it, they’ve not spent it. It’s important for that bill to go through for us to be able to use that for debt reduction.”

Guardian said that it the PILOT program can lead the way for Atlantic City and that the money would go to the municipality and no longer to the Atlantic City Alliance.

The casinos along Atlantic City have collectively agreed to pay $120 million in lieu of taxes. According to Guardian, the $120 million locks in the casinos without tax appeals.

Guardian said that if the program is not instated, many of the casinos will want to make an appeal.

“We’d have to see what happens with Mr.[Carl] Icahn and what’s going to happen with that, but that has been my concern personally,” said Guardian “If Mr. Icahn, who the Trump properties owe $250 million, becomes the owner of the Trump properties, we have them valued at $590 million. Mr. Icahn is going to say they’re only worth $250 million. It’s about 43 percent of the 590. So, if his taxes drop 57 percent, then every other casino is going to say if that property is only worth 43 percent, I’m next door or I’m down the block, mine’s worth 43 percent too. That’s where it makes us all very nervous.”

When asked about what the likelihood of the PILOT program going forward, Guardian said, “I’m not a betting man. I know that sounds funny for the mayor of Atlantic City but I don’t gamble. I’m a conservative, I make good hard decisions. Everyday there’s a crisis and you deal with the crisis. So I don’t know what’s going to happen, but we have to be prepared either way.”

Guardian said that he is optimistic and that the city will be able to balance the 2015 budget with the help of the state.