Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson responded to public requests by Senator Jim Whelan and Senate President Steve Sweeney that the county use its substantial bonding capacity to finance Atlantic City’s $180,000,000 debt to Borgata and that the county should purchase the Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority.
“I am continually being asked if Atlantic County will finance Atlantic City’s Borgata debt. While I appreciate the senators trying to find a solution to Atlantic City’s crushing debt let me be clear. Atlantic County will not bond to pay the city’s debt to Borgata. That idea is dead on arrival,” Levinson said. “What Atlantic City needs to do is to find a solution that serves the best interest of the taxpayer not just the creditor. The Borgata debt needs to be negotiated down. Given the severity of Atlantic City’s fiscal crisis, why would you pay 100 cents on the dollar if it can be negotiated to a lesser amount? Remember, the Borgata debt is unsecured. It is not protected by a guarantor or tied to an asset. So where is Borgata’s leverage?”
“As for us purchasing Atlantic City’s water utility,” Levinson added, “there are too many unknowns. Its value would need to be determined. No one can say for certain what it is worth. Has there been a feasibility study? What’s the condition of the treatment plant, pumping stations, and the miles of pipes? Would they need upgrades or replacement in the near future? How much will that cost? Is there excess capacity that can be sold to other providers? Most importantly, it would have to make sense for all the taxpayers of Atlantic County, not just Atlantic City.”
Levinson emphasized he is only responding to requests made in the newspapers by Whelan and Sweeney. “I have not had any specific discussions with them or anyone else on these issues, but I will make myself available at their convenience if they would like to discuss this or any other matter,” Levinson said.