We hope San Juan County commissioners will enact the tax increases needed to avoid the more than $6 million budget deficit the county is facing for the funding of a program that helps uninsured county residents pay medical bills and that reimburses providers for care given to the uninsured. Paying the approximate 5 cents these taxes would add to every $20 spent is a far better choice than the unacceptable harm that would be caused by eliminating 70 jobs, some 10 percent of the county's workforce. County residents should consider the services that will be lost if there is a reduction of staff in the sheriff's department, the fire department, and public works. The people working these jobs are contributing to our local economy. Can we afford to lose this contribution?

In addition, we oppose closing Riverview Golf Course in Kirtland as part of any solution for this deficit. Closure would equate to job losses for people employed there as well as being the loss of a popular recreational facility. In addition, the main chapter of The First Tee of San Juan County operates at Riverview Golf Course. First Tee offers a life-skills curriculum to youth while introducing them to the game of golf. First Tee's Nine Core Values include qualities such as integrity, sportsmanship, perseverance, and respect. The program's goal is to bring together youth from all of San Juan County without gender, race, or socio-economic bias. Fee structures range from no cost to $45, and the program is open to youth between 6 and 18 years of age. Closing Riverview would mean the loss of a needed and worthwhile youth program in that area.