It has not been easy to be a local government official during the coronavirus pandemic. They have been a major factor in the local-level response to the virus and have seen their finances implode in the process as sales tax revenue has all but vanished.
Adding to that stress: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's threat of $10,000 daily fines if local officials do not enforce basic pandemic safety guidelines like mask wearing, social distancing and occupancy limits.
"They couldn't afford it," Chemung County Executive Chris Moss said of the threatened fine. "County leaders and local governments are working night and day on this COVID issue."
The threat made last week by the governor seemed to be directed at a longtime rival, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. On Monday, Cuomo again said the city's response has been less-than-ideal when it comes to enforcement of mask wearing or limiting gatherings.
The state will be taking over enforcement efforts, with local personnel support, in areas where coronavirus cases have been on the rise, largely in Queens and Brooklyn.
Regions outside of New York City have also seen their case count rise, mostly in the Hudson Valley as well as parts of the Southern Tier.
"We haven't seen less mask usage or poor social distancing," Moss said. "We harp on it every week. We do press conferences."
Moss, a Republican who ran for lieutenant governor in 2014, is also a former county sheriff. He acknowledged that enforcing something like mask wearing would be difficult and the resources are lacking.
"To simply say I'll fine counties $10,000 a day if you don't enforce the social distancing rules -- we don't have the resources to do it," he said.
More urgently is the need for federal support: County governments are facing yawning budget gaps and their spending plans are due at the end of the calendar year. The state is seeking billions of dollars in federal aid.
"We've already left over 70 positions vacant," Moss said. "We offered an early retirement incentive. We've slashed retirement incentives. But at the end of the day we're going to face a $10 to $15 million deficit -- a gap we can't close."