ATLANTIC CITY - Donald Trump is angry that Atlantic City scrapped a $34 million deal to settle disputed taxes on his three casinos here.
But he's also glad it did.
The real estate tycoon said in an interview yesterday that new Atlantic City Mayor Scott Evans' decision this week to kill the deal indicates the city can't be trusted.
"We had a done deal," Trump said. "When you make a signed deal - signed, sealed, and passed by the City Council - and you break it, that sends out a very bad signal to the investment community about Atlantic City."
But at the same time, Trump said he was glad that Evans blocked the deal, because he thinks he can get a better one in court.
The deal, approved Nov. 1 by the City Council and signed by William "Speedy" Marsh, then the acting mayor, covered 19 tax appeals the company filed disputing the city's assessment of what Trump's properties were worth.
"I think it's a lousy settlement," Trump said. "I think we should have gotten much more. We'd be better off going back into court."
Evans said Trump is half right. "I agree with him: It is a lousy deal, and we should go back to court, because the city will get a better deal there," he said.
Invoking the real estate tycoon's best-selling book, Evans added, "This is 'The Art of The Deal,' Trump at his best. You need people who can stand up to him."
The settlement calls for a $12 million cash payment to Trump for 2007, $4 million a year in tax credits for 2009 to 2011, and $5 million a year in credits for 2012 and 2013.
Atlantic County would contribute $5 million to the settlement as repayment for the proportional tax money the city had turned over to the county.
Evans blocked the $12 million payment this week, saying that it was hastily approved and adding that he wanted to learn more about the agreement before deciding whether it could go through.
He said yesterday that the city did not plan to pay Trump anything without being ordered to do so by a judge.
Trump officials have asked a court to force the city to pay, and the city is seeking more time to weigh its options.
Trump is chairman and the largest stockholder of Trump Entertainment Resorts, which operates the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino, and Trump Marina Hotel Casino.