Saying that he doesn't believe Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian and other leaders have not done enough to improve the city's financial situation, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney is introducing legislation paving the way for a state takeover the city.

 

A "strong backer" of Atlantic City, Sweeney said city officials must come up with a manageable budget plan – or else.

"This is a very clear statement to Atlantic City," he said Tuesday. "Get your act together, knock off the BS and start addressing what you need to address. The state is not going to come in and bail you out anymore."

Sen. Jim Whelan, a former mayor of Atlantic City, said he doubts a state takeover would be a magical solution for the struggling city hit hard by the recent closing of four casinos.

Fiscal monitors already approve all the money that's spent by the city and the board of education, said Whelan, D-Atlantic.

"From what I've seen of the state -- both in Atlantic City and in terms of where they have taken over, the Paterson school district, the Newark school districts -- is anyone pointing to them and saying look at these great results," Whelan said.

And Sweeney, D-Gloucester, conceded that he would prefer that local officials take more dramatic action to avoid a state takeover.

"But I'm introducing the bill to show how serious we are about this situation, that Atlantic City needs to start focusing on how they're going to move their town forward and how they're going to get to a budget that's manageable and not relying on the state to keep coming to the rescue."