What is the Municipal Stabilization and Recovery Act (MSRA)?

In May 2016, the New Jersey State Legislature passed this Act, which sets forth a procedure for the State of New Jersey – specifically the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs – to step in and assist municipalities facing short-term and long-term financial instability.

Does the Municipal Stabilization and Recovery Act apply to Atlantic City?

Yes. Following a process outlined in MSRA, the Department of Community Affairs undertook a comprehensive review of Atlantic City in 2016 and determined the city was in need of stabilization. This determination triggered the State in November 2016 to exercise its authority to stabilize the city’s finances. This strong State oversight will continue until the earlier of two conditions: the expiration of the State’s authority in the city in November 2021 pursuant to MSRA; or municipal capacity is on strong footing and Atlantic City’s reliance on State Transitional Aid has been substantially reduced if not eliminated.

What is Governor Murphy’s administration doing to advance Atlantic City’s stabilization and recovery?

In February 2018, Governor Phil Murphy and Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver named attorney Jim Johnson as special counsel in the Governor’s Counsel’s Office, with the specific task of conducting an intensive analysis of Atlantic City and providing recommendations for the process of returning the city to local control. Mr. Johnson led a review team that spent more than five months gathering facts, consulting with experts and scholars, speaking with numerous stakeholders and residents, and analyzing the city’s situation. This review provided the basis for a report to Governor Murphy entitled “Atlantic City, Building A Foundation For A Shared Prosperity,” which was issued in September 2018. This report is often referred to as the Atlantic City Transition Report.

What is the purpose of the Atlantic City Transition Report?

The report provides a roadmap to address chronic challenges that Atlantic City has faced and a framework to achieve sustainable, shared prosperity for people living and working in the city.

What recommendations are included in the Atlantic City Transition Report?

The report includes the following recommendations:

  • Focus on the fundamentals of local government by building the capacity and talent of municipal employees through training and better technology to deliver essential services, respond to constituent concerns, collect more revenue, and plan for development and growth.
  • Build a diverse economy by broadening the economic base of the city, supporting the stability of the casino industry, developing jobs with the potential for growth and higher wages, supporting the health of small businesses, and creating career ladders within job sectors.
  • Improve amenities that affect residents’ quality of life and can attract new residents by developing strategic projects such as a food market, after school and summer programs for children, and walkable neighborhoods.
  • Enhance the city’s strengths by utilizing the network of neighborhood civic associations, arts organizations and cultural institutions; introducing non-partisan community engagement tools; and building a community collaboration database.
  • Address social challenges and create pathways to opportunity by providing support for households facing foreclosure, rehabbing vacant and abandoned homes and selling them to working families at affordable prices, tackling such public health issues as infant mortality and obesity, identifying state grant programs to support the city’s youth, and developing training programs to prepare unemployed city residents for work, among other activities.

How will the recommendations included in the Atlantic City Transition Report be implemented?

The framework for getting the work done includes two councils dedicated to advancing revitalization efforts in the city: the Atlantic City Executive Council and Atlantic City Coordinating Council.

What is the Atlantic City Executive Council?

The Executive Council provides a structure for local stakeholders in government, private, civic, and philanthropic institutions to work in collaboration to administer elements of Atlantic City’s revitalization efforts and to maximize the resources that already exist in the city.

The Executive Council consists of the Lieutenant Governor; Mayor; City Council President; Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA); Atlantic County Economic Alliance; Atlanticare; Stockton University; Atlantic City school district; Atlantic City Housing Authority; Atlantic County Prosecutor; ACDEVCO; representatives of civic associations, casino management, labor organizations, and community art groups; and DCA, which is the state department charged with stabilizing the city’s finances under the Municipal Stabilization and Recovery Act.

What is the Atlantic City Coordinating Council?

The Coordinating Council brings together state agencies to collaborate on initiatives aimed at addressing the difficult challenges that remain in Atlantic City and to identify experts and resources to assist in these initiatives.

The Coordinating Council consists of the Lieutenant Governor; the Commissioners of the Departments of Agriculture, Children and Families, Corrections, Education, Health, Human Services, Labor and Workforce Development, and Transportation; the DCA Deputy Commissioner; the Director of DCA’s Division of Local Government Services; the Attorney General; the Treasurer; the Secretary of Higher Education; the Executive Director of the NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency; the Chief Executive Officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority; the Executive Director of NJ Transit; the Director of the Authorities Unit; and the Chair of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

How will people know that work is getting done?

The Atlantic City Executive Council will produce quarterly progress reports of the work it is doing and the Atlantic City Coordinating Council will issue a semiannual report of the status of its initiatives.

Additionally, the agenda for each Executive Council meeting will be publicly posted two business days before the meeting and Executive Council meeting minutes, quarterly reports, and quarterly goals will be posted on the Atlantic City section of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ website.