- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - A proposal by an Atlantic City councilman for a 20 percent pay cut on elected and appointed officials lasted only a few hours before it was shot down.

Councilman Kaleem Shabazz said Tuesday he will introduce a resolution next week asking Mayor Don Guardian to roll back his $103,000 annual salary and imposing cuts to the $28,000 each of the nine council members are paid.

But hours later, Council President Marty Small said he will not post the proposal for a vote, saying it has no support.

“I am not going to entertain it,” Small said. “The majority of council does not support it. They let me know that in no uncertain terms.”

The measures are largely symbolic in a city with a budget deficit of up to $100 million. Atlantic City is at risk of being taken over by the state, but Shabazz said city officials need to show they’re serious about reducing spending.

“We’re going to ask people to make sacrifices,” Shabazz said. “We’re probably going to lay more people off. We’re going to outsource some jobs and consolidate some functions. We shouldn’t do that without making some sacrifices ourselves.”

But Small said the proposal “would do absolutely nothing to our financial situation.” He said the last time council increased its pay was before 2000.

Guardian’s office noted he reduced his salary from the $143,000 his predecessor Lorenzo Langford made, resulting in a savings of $160,000 over his four-year term.

Backed by Democratic state Senate President Steve Sweeney, Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s administration is pushing for a state takeover of Atlantic City’s finances and major decision-making power as the city slips toward going broke.

Shabazz noted the council recently passed a resolution to have state officials relieve the city of having to pay pensions to lifeguards and to sell city properties, including the former Bader Field airport property.

The city’s finances are reeling from the contraction of its largest taxpayer, the casino industry, which saw four of its 12 casinos shut down in 2014. But many state officials also say generations of Atlantic City governments spent lavishly while casino revenues were rolling in. That level of spending has now become unsustainable, as casino revenue has fallen from $5.2 billion in 2006 to $2.56 billion last year.

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Follow Wayne Parry at https://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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