While cities, towns and villages know they will see a 5-percent cut in state aid, counties are still awaiting word on how much they will lose.

Clinton County Administrator Michael Zurlo said counties won't know for sure what the impact will be until the state budget is finalized.

"But we've been made aware of several reductions we can expect in state aid in several areas," Zurlo said.

The county expects to lose funding for the Probation, Health, Social Services and Nursing Home departments.

"We are going to have to provide the same services with less money," he said.

"We were aware of some of this at budget time and made the appropriate decisions, but in this environment, every year is a difficult budget year."

Zurlo said the Clinton County Legislature has given no indication of cutting any jobs in next year's budget, at this point.

"We understand the state is in a tough spot, and we would advocate for cuts, but what we are seeing are cost shifts, not cuts," Zurlo said.

"The unfortunate result is property taxes could be affected. This is like death by pin prick."

County managers participated in a teleconference call with state officials recently to learn more about the aid situation but wound up with few answers.

Franklin County Manager James Feeley said the only thing he knows for sure is that 2011 will be a difficult budget year.

"We are going to have less money to run the programs we are obligated to run, and that is because of the inextricable mismanagement of the state finances," Feeley said.

"The state and counties are tied together, and we are the agents for the state, and the only time we can save money on a program is when they say don't run that program. But they don't ever say that."

Franklin County's tentative budget is due Oct. 1, and Feeley said he will meet with department heads in the next few weeks to get the process started.

"We are going to rely on our department heads to chew through what they learn from their state associations and see what they can do," he said.

Essex County Manager Daniel Palmer shares Zurlo's and Feeley's frustration.

"We are totally lost in the dark as to what the final numbers will be," Palmer said.

Essex County could probably have absorbed a funding loss a few years ago, he said, but not now, after losing about $5.8 million in revenue since 2008.

"We just don't have it."

The county recently approved a sales-tax increase of one quarter of a percent, which is awaiting approval from the state legislators, but that, too, has been held up in the budget quagmire.

The sales-tax increase is expected to generate about $1.2 million for the county.

"That's about 10 percent on our tax levy, " Palmer said.

"We need that."

E-mail Joe LoTemplio at: jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com

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