Businesses are taking cost-cutting steps that would’ve been unthinkable just a few years ago. Here’s an example of how a balanced budget trumped a longstanding Christmas tradition.
Steve Levy, the Sulfolk County Executive, recently announced that the New York county decided not to pay the $660 fee to have David McKell dress up as Santa Claus and greet Long-Island children this year.
This would’ve been the 10th-straight year McKell, an 83-year-old World War II veteran and former homicide detective, played Santa for the county.
For his part, Levy offered a number of reasons why the county couldn’t justify taking the $600-plus out of the Sulfolk County’s $2.7 billion budget, such as 750 county employees facing layoffs due to budget restraints and a $20 million cut in state aid to county’s health system.
But that didn’t stop a number of people from voicing their displeasure. Dozens of people have offered to foot the bill for McKell’s Santa services, according to county officals. In addition, County Comptroller said, “I mean, $600? Give me a break … There comes a point where you go overboard in terms of penny-pinching.”
The Suffolk County Santa saga does have a happy ending, however. Steve Ballone, the Democratic candidate who is running to succeed Levy, said he’s going to pay for Santa this year.
Even though Levy’s not running for reelection, he called Bellone’s move “pure grandstanding,” and said his office was investigating whether the move violated any rules regarding gifts to county agencies.