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Fresh air

Wouldn't it be great if all tax opponents worked to find solutions?

When was the last time you heard of vocal tax opponents who helped defeat a levy at the polls, then rolled up their sleeves and proposed an alternative funding source?

That's what's happening in Jacksonville right now. Dick Ames and Len Hebert, who campaigned last fall against a &

36;2.8 million property tax levy for the city's fire department, are members of the Ad Hoc Committee for Public Safety. The committee has been working on other ways to generate the money the fire department clearly needs to provide 24-hour protection for Jacksonville residents.

Mayor Jim Lewis says it is unique in his experience for people who fought an issue to then come together to find a solution.

It's unique in ours, too. Let's hope it's catching.

We had our own doubts about the fire levy on the November ballot, not because it wasn't needed, but because it would have increased property taxes in Jacksonville by &

36;2.60 per &

36;1,000 of assessed value. That's &

36;260 a year on a &

36;100,000 house, of which there aren't many in Jacksonville.

We endorsed the measure, but voters clearly felt it was too steep a price to pay. The committee's latest proposal is a &

36;7-a-month surcharge on water bills that would increase to &

36;14.30 a month in the second and third years.

That's &

36;171.60 a year at the higher rate ' considerably more affordable than the property tax levy. Of course, it won't raise nearly as much money. But if it will buy the improved fire protection the city needs at a price more palatable to residents, and that's a win for everyone.

Opponents of tax measures frequently say they're all for public services, but it's the wrong tax, or it's too high. When the election is over, they disappear until the next tax proposal surfaces.

The Jacksonville committee members are setting an example of true community spirit. It's a breath of fresh air.

Clean them up

A bill approved by the Oregon Senate last week would help preserve the pristine reputation of Oregon rivers and streams.

Too often that reputation is unfairly earned. If you look around the more popular fishing spots on the Rogue River, you'll find a lot of left-over fishing gear littering the banks ' particularly monofilament, the plastic line most fishermen use.

Waterfowl that live along the the river fairly often become entangled in the left-over line, a situation that can result in the death of a significant number of birds.

Senate Bill 748 sets up ways to dispose of old gear left long the rivers ' the Rogue, the North Santiam and four others to be designated later in the pilot project.

The program is modeled after one in Alaska that worked well in removing line, lead weights, lures and other gear that can injure waterfowl.

Of course, if all fishermen cleaned up after themselves before leaving their favorite fishing spot, this legislation would be unnecessary. But the reality is that some sort of program like this is necessary.