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Atlantic Boardwalk and shore

Mayor Lorenzo T. Langford
By Lorenzo T. Langford
Mayor, City of Atlantic city

In the southern portion of the state, economic difficulties have led to a number of creative strategies to lessen the negative impact on various communities. Compared to North Jersey, the tax base in the south is smaller and the population from which to draw is significantly smaller too.

In the southern portion of the state, economic difficulties have led to number of creative strategies to lessen the negative impact on various communities. Compared to North Jersey, the tax base in the south is smaller and the population from which to draw is significantly smaller, too.

However, the operation of city government must continue to be as transparent as possible if our constituency is to understand the action we must take to maintain city services.

Redevelopment In the City of Atlantic City, we have “our last best chance” to capitalize on real tax relief through economic development. Historic Bader Field, the first airfield designated as an “airport” in the United States, served our city and region well. Now we have the opportunity to develop the 142 acre parcel into what I hope will be a multi-use area encompassing hotel/gaming, recreation, retail, and perhaps even residential space.

In the history of Atlantic City, I witnessed how poor decisions and hasty action cost taxpayers big time!

The so-called “H-Tract” acquisition was a huge mistake, in my opinion. Many city and state officials were unmoved by my contention that the deal was a major give away. Even today, some find it difficult to admit that large city land transfers without reasonable compensation to this, or quite frankly, any municipality is ill-advised. Some are trying the very same tactics with Bader Field that allowed the “H-Tract” to get away.

Because of the “H-Tract”, many now realize and understand that the City of Atlantic City must receive all it can from the sale and development of Bader Field. Benefits received from Bader Field will provide major relief to taxpayers and improved services to residents and visitors alike.

My administration has identified several misconceptions about Atlantic City. I believe these misnomers must be addressed, because, while we have some problems, as most cities do, they are not as bad as some may want you to believe. In fact, the much bally-hooed claim that “crime is on the rise” is not true. Crime in Atlantic City is actually down and has continued to decline over the last several years. However, because of high profile crimes and some self-inflicted wounds, we have unfortunately earned much bad press. That was then and this is now.

The Right Team I have put together a group of proven professionals to tell the real story about Atlantic City: that true optimism and ability to achieve is the order of the day, each and everyday! With few exceptions, the dedicated members of my staff and administration have many years of experience in government: whether it is financial skill, such as those of Arthur Bunting, Jr., who implemented several budget-cutting measures as our Revenue & Finance consultant, or the accomplishments of Paul Jerkins, Director of the Department of Public Works, who comes to the position after serving as Superintendent of the Electrical Bureau. Director Jerkins uses his knowledge of the eight departmental divisions to provide the quality service our citizens expect and deserve. My administration is tapping the central core of talent found in city government.

Seniors Valentines Day Dance

Better health, transportation and nutritional services, combined with special social events, such as the Valentines Day luncheon, help keep older minds engaged and provide my administration with valuable information on how to improve the lives of our senior citizens.

Senior Services Additionally, I plan to increase city services to senior citizens. Nearly 30 percent of our population is 65 or older. These folks carried Atlantic City during its darkest days and I feel an obligation to those who blazed the trail before me. The opportunities we have today are in large part due to their devoted efforts.

While responding to the needs of our civic associations, I enjoy a reputation for fairness and have a genuine commitment to lower taxes, streamline personnel rolls and improve city services. But it is what we do to benefit our senior population that is very important to me. Better health, transportation and nutritional services, combined with special social events, will help keep older minds engaged and provide my administration with valuable information on how to improve the lives of our senior citizens.

Job Creation Jobs are scarce! We must find a way to help people get back to work. My administration is working tirelessly to provide a solution for the lack of jobs. When I was growing up in Atlantic City, I held several entry level jobs which were part of a county-wide program called CETA. It is the possibility of another program like that being developed which gives me hope that there may be a way to address the unemployment problem.

There are many adults, young and old, who have the rudimentary skills to enter the job market. That’s what the CETA program addressed and that’s what we must address now. Greater employment opportunity provides a community with safer neighborhoods, increased tax revenue and a wider variety of thoughts and ideas. The self-esteem associated with a “paycheck” is only achieved when there is the possibility of earning one. If we’re training folks for both present and future job opportunities, we cannot go wrong.

I am not saying government should be an employment service. But many are suffering, and there is no time like the present to prepare people for the future. We must identify potential funding sources and commit to the process of employee training.

Artist rendering of the Revel Development
This is an artist’s rendering of the Revel development. When Revel Entertainment’s $2.6 billion mega-resort project comes on line, it is estimated that over 50 percent of Atlantic City’s under-or-unemployed residents will be able to gain employment.

 

Revel Entertainment Mega-resort When Revel Entertainment’s $2.6 billion mega-resort project comes on line, it is estimated that over 50 percent of Atlantic City’s under-or-unemployed residents will be able to gain employment. The Revel project also represents significant tax relief. Some projections indicate nearly $33 million per year would be dropped into the city’s treasury. With capital like that, you can understand why I am very optimistic about Atlantic City’s future.

Atlantic City’s recovery? I think it is right around the corner. I feel it in every decision made and every problem solved. Continued growth means less pressure on the entire community and more opportunity to purchase homes, start businesses and improve Atlantic City.

In the future, we will double our efforts to maintain and improve Atlantic City’s world famous beach and boardwalk. Environmental, atmospheric and economic parameters are of utmost importance to encourage tourism and demonstrate our commitment to “go green.”

The City of Atlantic City plans to reduce the chances of our landfills reaching overflow. This is why we have put more teeth into our Recycling Division’s enforcement powers. But what we found is that cajoling goes much further when it comes to encouraging people to comply with recycling goals. Since I returned to office, we have also increased our recycling tonnage and developed several “Clean Community” projects.

In closing, the City of Atlantic City stands ready to embrace and move forward with what I believe to be a strong economic recovery. Atlantic City’s gaming establishments will survive and morph into businesses which offer patrons more diversity. Our city will do the same! What’s that shining city straight ahead? It’s Atlantic City leading the way to greater prosperity for the entire State of New Jersey

 


This article appeared in New Jersey Municipalities, Volume 87, Number 4, April 2010

 

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