ATLANTIC COUNTY FREEHOLDERS WORKING TO HELP THOSE HIT HARD BY THE STRUGGLING ECONOMY

Atlantic County, NJ ? As layoffs and unemployment rates continue to rise in Atlantic County, Freeholders Giordano and Curcio are examining ways to bring new jobs to the County while helping protect existing jobs and assisting displaced workers find new employment.

Freeholder-At-Large Frank Giordano and 5th District Freeholder Jim Curcio kicked off their re-election campaign yesterday at the historic Courthouse in downtown Mays Landing with a discussion focusing on jobs and economic stabilization.

?The impact of the national fiscal crisis is really hitting home and families are forced to face the prospect of job losses as the economy grows weaker,? said Curcio. ?These are the toughest times we’ve ever seen, and we’re doing everything possible to soften the blow on the people of Atlantic County.?

Freeholder Curcio added that, ?It is hard to believe that just a year ago a major concern was how to handle the impacts of up to five new casino projects and an estimated 15,000 new employees. All but one of those proposed projects have been postponed indefinitely and the future of the one remaining project, Revel, is far from certain. Meanwhile, it has been reported that 10 of Atlantic City?s 11 casinos are experiencing some level of economic difficulty. Casino employment has declined substantially. The ripple effects extend beyond the travel and tourism industry. Nearly every business throughout the county has been adversely impacted by the economic downturn. In one year the County has sustained a $2.8 billion loss of ratable.?

A recent report showed a loss of nearly 3,000 jobs in Atlantic County. The majority of those jobs involved the casinos or state government, but Giordano and Curcio know that more painful layoffs could continue as the economy continues to struggle.

The current Atlantic County unemployment rate is 10.8%. A year ago it was 5.8%.

More than ever, Atlantic County needs experienced, competent leadership that has demonstrated the ability to hold down taxes, streamline government and provide honest, dedicated and stable leadership. These conditions are essential to promoting public confidence and encouraging economic growth and business retention.

?Our first priority is to help those who lost their jobs find work,? said Giordano, ?But we also need to advance policies that promote job creation for the Atlantic County region as a whole.?

As Freeholders, Curcio and Giordano will:

? Continue to fast track development of a state of the art Aviation Research and Technology Park adjacent to the FAA Center in EHT. This project, when completed, will be a source of several hundred high end jobs.

? Support the construction of a new office building in Hammonton by New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company which will employ over 400 permanent employees.

? Support proposals to divert flights from Philadelphia International Airport to our Atlantic City Airport. This could be a substantial economic benefit to the County and spur job growth.

? Continue to work with casino reps and labor leaders to develop short term and long term strategies to stabilize the competitive position of Atlantic City?s Gaming and tourism industry.

? Continue to challenge the Pinelands Commission on proposed regulations that unduly damage the local economy and hurt property owners without compensation.

? Continue to fight the State COAH requirements that would impose a 2.5% fee on commercial development.

On a positive note, in 2009 we will invest nearly $300 million in public construction projects by our County development agencies and educational institutions. These come at a time when our construction industry can use the work. They will also insure continued improvement of our roads and bridges and expand the education opportunities for our young people.

Giordano and Curcio have also pledged to continue their efforts to reduce the tax burden on working families and make sound financial planning an important part of Atlantic County?s future.

?Atlantic County government remains an outstanding example of fiscal responsibility and stability,? Curcio stated. ?Coming into this year, the county property tax rate has been cut for eight consecutive years, debt has been reduced, spending has been kept in check, and we continue to provide quality government services without interruption.?

?Other counties around the state are under severe financial pressure to raise taxes by significant levels to make up for shortfalls in revenue and state aid,? added Giordano. ?We?re working from a position of strength in that we?ve worked to save ? not spend ? tax dollars during good times to prevent large tax increases during economic downturns. Our County Government isn?t immune to the recession, but we?re in better position to weather the financial storm.?

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