Hours after New Jersey state officials rejected a financial recovery plan proposed by Atlantic City, opening the door for a full state takeover, city officials questioned the reasons for the denial and said they hoped the state would reconsider.
Republican Mayor Don Guardian vowed to respond to the state's doubts about the recovery plan with additional information, hoping to stave off a final decision on Atlantic City's fate.
Guardian said the city had until the end of the day on Thursday to submit a recovery plan to the state under a municipal takeover law signed earlier this year by Republican Gov. Chris Christie and supported by Democrats in the Legislature.
But it is unclear if the state Department of Community Affairs will consider any additional information presented by city officials.
"Any items for consideration should have been addressed during the 150 days provided to the city to prepare its plan and then included in the plan as required by the act," said Tammori Petty, a department spokeswoman.
Despite promising to continue to work with the state to avoid a takeover, Atlantic City officials criticized the department for how it conducted the review of the city's recovery plan.
"The effort here wasn't to have this plan reviewed to see if it would work. It was to see what's wrong with it," said consultant Ed McManimon at a City Hall press conference Wednesday.
City Council President Marty Small, a Democrat, further blasted state officials, whom he said rejected a viable proposal for financial recovery without suggesting an alternative.
"The state has never had a plan, never will have a plan, and in their 75 pages of nonsense didn't offer a plan," said Small.
Petty denied that the department's review process was inaccurate or motivated by politics.
If the Department of Community Affairs again rejects Atlantic City's proposal, Guardian said, the city would take its fight against a state takeover to court. He said it is an issue that would spread to other financially distressed cities and towns across the state.
"What you do to Atlantic City, you're going to do to Paterson, you're going to do to Trenton, you're going to do to Newark, you're going to do to every other municipality in the state," Guardian said.
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