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US pols sack Santa Claus in cost-cutting drive

'Happy Holidays, now p*ss off', 2,000-year-old worker told

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A local government in New York state has cut Father Christmas from the county payroll as part of a vicious cost-cutting program.

Suffolk County in New York state gave the popular red-suited character the boot on Friday as they grappled to trim their budget and fill a $135m hole, Reuters reports.

Some 750 county employees are expected to get the bullet, but there was almost universal uproar over county supervisor Steve Levy's decision to let go of Santa – in the shape of David McKell, an 83-year-old WWII vet and former detective.

The layoff of the symbol of Yule and unofficial patron saint of retailers was seen as particularly cruel as the total saving is a mere $660 – although Mr Christmas works only for a couple of weeks a year.

We do not know if Santa's wages includes healthcare or other benefits, though at almost 2,000 years old, we presume he would be on Medicare anyway.

In the end, a town supervisor from nearby Babylon, Steve Bellone, offered to stump up the cash, which will reportedly cover Claus's gas and other sack-related expenses. Levy accused Bellone – who is running to take over Levy's job – of "grandstanding". ®

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