Atlantic City

Atlantic City Workers Vote on Plan to Avoid Shutdown

Municipal workers in Atlantic City have voted on a temporary plan to avoid a government shutdown next week, but the vote results were not immediately released.

The plan calls for paying city workers every 28 days, instead of every two weeks. It would start Wednesday next week and end May 6, avoiding a city government shutdown for at least another month and giving lawmakers more time to figure out a long-term solution to Atlantic City's financial woes.

Virginia Darnell, president of the city's white-collar workers union, told The Press of Atlantic City results would be made public later. Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said he expects to have the results from all of the union voting by Thursday morning.

The plan would help the city stay afloat while awaiting a quarterly property tax collection due May 1. The city also must make a $1.7 million bond payment that day and make payroll payments five days later. A monthly city school board payment is also due that month amounting to $8.5 million.

But Republican Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday repeated his call for the Democrat-led Assembly to pass legislation to allow the state to take control of the city and to stabilize property tax payments. The measure has passed in the Senate, and Christie again blamed the mayor and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto for holding up its final approval.

"The mayor and the speaker are the co-captains of the Titanic," Christie said. "And we're there trying to save people."

Prieto, who opposes the legislative proposal to give the state the authority to end collective bargaining agreements, called on Christie to negotiate a compromise.

"But that would require him to do something he seldom does — his job," Prieto said Wednesday.

Officials originally proposed having essential employees work from April 8 to May 1 and receive back pay. But that plan wasn't clear on which employees were deemed essential. Those employees also considered applying for unemployment.

Under the new plan, both essential and non-essential employees would work and receive their full salary.

Guardian said the unions and the City Council must both agree to the new pay schedule. City Council is to meet April 6. Guardian noted that the plan isn't a long-term solution, and said he'll work as a "diplomat" to come up with an arrangement.

"The concern from the beginning is being fair to all city employees, yet being fair to taxpayers as well," Guardian said. "This clearly is a more logical, more methodical process to go through."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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