ST. JAMES, N.Y. – Santa's gotten the pink slip.
Officials on New York's Long Island say there is no money in the budget to pay a man $660 for playing Santa at a general store run by Suffolk County.
A spokesman for the county executive tells Newsday that officials already are considering layoffs for 750 employees to help close an estimated $135 million budget gap.
They are looking for volunteers to replace 83-year-old David McKell. He has been playing Santa for nine years. County Executive Steve Levy and his top aide have offered to take a shift playing the jolly elf at the store.
Built in 1857, the St. James General Store is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was operated privately for decades until Suffolk took it over in 1990.