When it comes to roads, there isn't much good news for the county, according to Tim Hens, highway superintendent.
There simply isn't money available for basic maintenance and with the cuts expected to the county budget, the county may not have the manpower this winter to operate snow plows.
The past several years, the towns have assisted the county as part of a shared services agreement, but the patience of town supervisors is wearing a little thin, Hens told the Public Services Committee on Monday.
"At the last meeting I got some blow back that enough is enough," Hens said.
County Manager Jay Gsell is asking all the departments in the county to cut spending by 5 percent.
For the highway department a five percent cut -- after years of trimming -- means layoffs, Hens said. That's all there is left to cut.
"Technically speaking, our staffing will be three people short of what we need to respond to a snow or ice event," Hens said.
Even if the county raises the property tax levy 2 percent, as allowed under a new state law, the increase won't even cover the anticipated rise in the county's retirement and medical expenses for 2012.
Without money to resurface roads as needed, the county has been sealing and patching cracks, Hens said, but many of the roads are well beyond these patchwork repairs.
"It's gotten to the point where even the public knows it's not the right treatment for the road," Hens said. "We get phone calls about it, but it's not like we don't know what we're doing. We have no option. There's no money and we're trying to stretch it as far as we can."
Among the cuts in the upcoming budget will be reduction painting pavement markings on county roads.
“That’s a service that people out on rural roads really depend on on a stormy night," Hens said. "That’s getting cut out."
This summer a bridge on Arnold Road in Elba had to be closed because one of the supports had completely rusted away. Funds from other bridge repairs had to be diverted to pay for the bridge to be replaced.
Several county-owned bridges now have weight limits on them that prevent fully loaded school buses from driving on them.
"Our snowplows really shouldn't be on them," Hens said.
It wasn't all bad news for the county that Hens delivered to the legislators, though.
Revenue is up about $100,000 at the county airport because of record fuel sales, and all the new hangars are leased and there's a waiting list for hangar space.
Also, a new online reservation system for county parks will make it easier for residents to book pavilions for parties and picnics.
The automated system will end the need for people to drive to the highway department facility on Cedar Street to make reservations and save about two hours per day of staff time to deal with reservations.