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Atlantic City Councilman Proposes 20 Percent Pay Cut for City Officials

An Atlantic City Councilman says the cash-strapped city's mayor, city council members and other officials should join in the sacrifices they are asking of city workers and take 20 percent pay cuts.

Councilman Kaleem Shabazz said Tuesday that he will introduce a resolution next week rolling back the salaries of the mayor ($103,000) and the nine council members ($28,000 each). Also to be cut by 20 percent would be the salaries of the city clerk and the council's attorney, whose salary the clerk's office would not reveal without a formal public records request. Shabazz also will ask several of Mayor Don Guardian's appointees to take the same pay cut.

The measures are largely symbolic in a city with a budget deficit of up to $100 million. Atlantic City is at risk of being taken over by the state, but Shabazz said city officials need to show they're serious about reducing spending.

"We're going to ask people to make sacrifices," he said. "We're probably going to lay more people off. We're going to outsource some jobs and consolidate some functions. We shouldn't do that without making some sacrifices ourselves."

Guardian's office noted he reduced his salary from the $143,000 his predecessor Lorenzo Langford made, resulting in a savings of $160,000 over his four-year term.

Backed by Democratic state Senate President Steve Sweeney, Republican Gov. Chris Christie's administration is pushing for a state takeover of Atlantic City's finances and major decision-making power as the city slips toward going broke.

Shabazz noted the council recently passed a resolution to have state officials relieve the city of having to pay pensions to lifeguards, and to sell city properties including the former Bader Field airport property.

The city's finances are reeling from the contraction of its largest taxpayer, the casino industry, which saw four of its 12 casinos shut down in 2014. But many state officials also say generations of Atlantic City governments spent lavishly while casino revenues were rolling in. That level of spending has now become unsustainable, as casino revenue has fallen from $5.2 billion in 2006 to $2.56 billion last year.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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