On Tuesday, October 17, the Board of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) adopted a smaller budget that still targets most dollars towards tourism destinations that benefit casino gaming objectives.
CRDA Budget Highlights:
- Payroll & expenses reduced by $1.5 million, 15% reduction from 2017
- MeetAC gets $7 million in funding
- Special Improvement District (SID) gets $4.6 million in funding
Questions were raised: what about more investment in Atlantic City infrastructure? Public safety? Paved streets? Small business assistance? Brighter street lights? Eradication of drug-related activity?
Sorry. No money for that stuff.
Note: CRDA’s primary commitment is to the casinos who fund CRDA operations. The casinos & adjacent tourism district will always enjoy most of the benefit.
What about the #1 concern of most Atlantic City residents….safety?
The recent transgender Marine Vet pipe-bomb arrest points to substantial safety issues that still remain in Atlantic City.
BACKGROUND on KEY CRDA ISSUES
Atlantic City casinos pay a 1.25 percent tax (IAT) on gambling revenue to finance projects that the CRDA deems economically and socially worthwhile. Since 2011, the IAT, Investment Alternative Tax , was tweaked to primarily assist AC projects. No longer would these casino taxes be used for myriad projects thru-out the state of NJ.
CRDA Mission – Casino Reinvestment Development Authority provides investment funds for economic development and community projects in Atlantic City. It shall encourage business development, permanent job creation, business expansion.
Did these CRDA / IAT funded projects benefit the citizens of Atlantic City and the local economy as a whole? Or did it just benefit the casinos? How many LOCAL AC residents do these casinos employ full-time?
IN 2012, CRDA ramped up spending. Tens of millions of IAT dollars went to casino upgrades, not on rebuilding the neighborhoods & infrastructure of Atlantic City.
- BORGATA. The CRDA approved $15 million in IAT Investment Alternative Tax dollars to help Borgata with past projects like Festival Park and Premier Nightclub. $15 million for a Borgata nightclub expansion in 2015. The Borgata project included an outdoor stage which was was quickly replaced by a beer garden. Borgata is market-valued at 1.9 billion, but will only pay taxes based on $850 mil assessment….for next 10 years. ( thx to PILOT bill )
- GOLDEN NUGGET. CRDA gave go-ahead to the Golden Nugget Atlantic City to create ‘villas’ from an old restaurant on the property. The $4.5 million project was funded with $1.2 million in CRDA IAT Investment Alternative Tax obligations.
- HARRAH’S. CRDA poured $46 million into Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center in 2012. The Casino Reinvestment Development Agency fronted millions of reinvestment credits.
- TROPICANA. Health and fitness center, update of 434 hotel rooms, light-and-sound show. The CRDA Casino Reinvestment Development Authority approved $18.8 million toward the Trop’s projects.
To be sure…. IAT dollars can do a lot of good for Atlantic city. When allocated appropriately, these dollars can boost local jobs for locals….grow tourism, marketing and the overall economic well-being of Atlantic City.
The CRDA was created to use a portion of Atlantic City casino taxes for positive improvement in the lives of New Jersey residents.
Under the 2011 Tourism District Act, the Authority’s mission evolved from statewide projects to becoming the state’s key economic development agency for Atlantic City. CRDA’s expanded responsibilities now include land use regulation, tourism marketing and clean and safe initiatives.
The CRDA runs Historic Boardwalk Hall and the Atlantic City Convention Center. Both properties are still steeped in debt.
In total, CRDA has invested nearly $2 billion in more than 400 projects statewide, of which $1.8 billion has been invested in Atlantic City.