TRENTON, N.J., (CBS) — No one is willing to call it a takeover, but an accord reached between government leaders in New Jersey could allow the state to assume greater control over Atlantic City’s operations for a 5 year period.

Governor Chris Christie was joined by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian at a hastily called press conference to announce the deal.

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State appointed officials could have control over everything from utility sales to labor accords in an attempt to stabilize things in Atlantic City. Governor Christie says the private sector is improving, but the city’s governmental structure is such that state intervention is the only way to fix it.

“We’re committed to using every tool that will now be available to us to restructure the city’s debt as well as re-engineer city services to be delivered at an affordable cost to their taxpayers.,” Christie told reporters.

Sweeney had been pushing a bill that called for a complete state takeover. That measure will now be re-written to conform with the accord. “We need to fix this government,” Sweeney said. “It’s not Atlantic City’s fault that they lost two thirds of their revenue all at once. But they’re spending three dollars and taking one in and that doesn’t work.”

The deal comes after a year-long consultant’s study, results of which were submitted to Christie last week. Many of those recommendations are expected to be included in the bill to be considered by the legislature.

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Guardian looked at the myriad of choices, and sees this as the best available. “Basically there’s 4 options,” he said. “Do nothing. Have the state take over. File bankruptcy or form a partnership. Not hard to figure out what you want to do and what’s best for Atlantic City and the State of New Jersey.”

City officials would be expected to make changes as recommended by state appointed officials.

There’s a promise to have the plan developed, discussed and put in place before the end of February.


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