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Amityville Officials Selling Vintage Packard To Trim Budget Gap

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Packard Convertible for Sale in Amityville, NY (credit: Sophia Hall / WCBS 880)

Packard Convertible for Sale in Amityville, NY (credit: Sophia Hall / WCBS 880)

jennifermclogan Jennifer McLogan
Jennifer McLogan returned to WCBS-TV in 1993 to cover Long Island...
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AMITYVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- “We are doing our best in these difficult times.”

Those were the words from the mayor of a small Long Island village. Amityville, in dire need of cash, is going public with innovative ideas to cut costs but not bankrupt homeowners.

Homeowners were horrified when they got word: prepare for property tax hikes as high as 30 percent. But since then village officials huddled with unions to come up with innovative alternatives to answer their budget woes.

So their 1929 Packard convertible, with just 696 miles on the odometer, is now on the market.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall: The Village Hopes For Big Bucks

“(The village has) financial problems due to pension plans and insurance with our budget. Now is the time we can get top dollar for it,” Amityville Village Trustee Ed Johnson told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

The green Packard was reportedly once used by New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker before he resigned in a corruption scandal in 1932.

It was donated to the Long Island village in 1999. These days it’s used to carry village dignitaries in parades.

Selling the prized Packard could save jobs. The proposal would also cancel the Fourth of July parade and fireworks, scale back village beach employees and programs and the newsletter could become web-only.

“Everything was on the table. We have been going through the budget from the first item to the last item to see where we can make cuts, and how we can enhance our revenue,” Deputy Mayor Peter Casserly said.

Salary freezes, overtime cuts, health insurance changes are also in the works. The fire department, for one, stands to lose $50,000.

Brendan Degraff said he hopes to be a firefighter.

“We can’t have people cutting back,” he said.

The village pledges safety will not be compromised.

When asked if it would be a disappointment to see them cancel the parade and sell the car, Charles Schweit said, “Honestly, yes.” Schweit said he believes parades keep his community bonded.

But Caribbean Café chef Garth McNeil said it’s imperative the downtown spirit remains solvent through the tough times.

“If these businesses don’t get the energy from the community we’re going to fail,” McNeil said.

Those in Village Hall said they won’t fail. With energy and clever ways to cut from the budget, tax hikes may be whittled below 10 percent.

Amityville’s final budget will be presented on April 25. The Packard could bring in as much as $300,000.

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