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Time for a sales taxEveryone complains about having to pay more and more taxes in order to keep well-needed services in operation. This includes police, fire, libraries, schools, parks and museums, just to mention only a very few. In the meantime, Oregonians sit back and watch millions of dollars slip right through their hands and don't even bat an eye.

Oregon is blessed with some of the most beautiful parks, wilderness areas, camping and recreation in the country. Visitors from all over the country come and utilize these costly resources without paying their fair share of the expenses.

This includes many of the parks, emergency services (police, fire, rescue), roads and highways and so much more. Oregon residents continue to pay for their enjoyment.

I strongly believe it's time for Oregon to initiate a sales tax on prepared foods (i.e., restaurants), retail goods (excluding automobiles, housing). This will allow everyone to contribute to the funding of required services and not rely on the already overtaxed Oregonian! Let's share the costs with all that enjoy this beautiful land and stop punishing the home and business owners of Oregon. &

8212; M. Fowler, Shady Cove Leadership missingI recently came home from a long trip. I had received quite a bit of mail while I was gone, and of course one was my monthly water bill from the "Medford Water Commission." The bill was a small amount of $30. I used under 1,000 gallons of water, cost to me $6.49. Balance of money owed: $23.51 in "fees."

They (Medford Water Commission) are misrepresented by their name. Should they not be named "Medford Fee Commission" with some water delivery service?

At this time I can afford it, fixed income people I am sure it is causing concern, and interfering with the lifestyle they worked so hard for.

Elected or appointed officials, when are you (we) going to get it? You can't have it all &

8212; leave some for the citizen.

Solutions, sales tax, tolls to use our roads, then reduce proportionately or eliminate the income tax or property tax, but no, it has to be all.

Leadership is missing. &

8212; R. Marrs, Medford

Find a way to save librariesI was stunned to hear that the entire Jackson County Library system will be closing in the spring of 2007. I'm not sure many voters, especially the ones feeling squeezed by state taxes already, understood the magnitude of catastrophe their nay-say to Measure 15-66 would induce. Who could bear the thought of showing an out-of-town guest the buildings that used to house libraries?

When I moved here several years ago, I was thrilled to see the main library in downtown Medford. Little did I know the entire system was being partly funded by an antiquated federal arrangement with the timber industry dating back to the early 1900s. When that industry was clearly in decline more than a decade ago, our state and county leaders should have had the foresight to make the necessary economic shifts that would create thriving health and education systems.

In this week before Christmas, I'm asking our county commissioners for the wisdom to find a way to keep our libraries open. Should they close with their stamp of approval, that decision will leave an indelible blemish on the face of our county for many years to come. &

8212; Leanne J. Krause, Medford

Healthy community not cheapTo those who keep writing about how we either do not need the libraries, or that they should be paid for with fees paid by those who use them, I would like to point out that the same measure that failed in November, also would have paid for sheriff coverage for the county, and for anti-meth programs.

With the same logic as suggesting user fees for the libraries, I would suggest user fees for more formerly free public services like schools and sheriff coverage.

So the next time you call 911, the operator will first ask you for your credit card number. If your card is declined, then the meth-mad home invasion robbers (whose parents could not afford the school or library user fees) who are terrorizing your family will be your problem, and not that of all our community's taxpayers!

The price of a safe and healthy community does not come cheaply. Free access to knowledge, via our free education system and the resources contained in our libraries, is a key part of this healthy community. &

8212; Glenn Hill, Phoenix

The dollar is sickThe dollar is sick, falling in value against the Euro by almost 50 percent recently. Try to rent a hotel room in London or go out to dinner in Paris if you don't believe how little our money is now worth.

Why has this happened? Because the United States has to borrow $2 billion a day to finance our federal budget and trade deficits. Foreign investors have accumulated so many dollars that they no longer want more and are turning to other currencies and gold to store their wealth.

Unless the American public decides to save more and buy less of foreign products, the dollar will weaken more. As Herbert Stein, the well-known economist once remarked, "Things that can't go on, don't." By lowering taxes on the wealthy, the Republican Congress and administration has greatly worsened the problem. Let us hope the new Democratically controlled Congress will begin to address this problem. &

8212; Frank Hieber, Medford

Talent chief overreactedOn Nov. 22, Talent's chief of police visited my house because there had been a call that my son was walking unsupervised. My almost 9-year-old son asked to visit his friend less than a block away. I told him he could go.

The chief turned my name in to child services for neglect. The chief also told me that he has higher standards of raising children, therefore, accusing me of lower standards.

I am concerned when the people of a town cannot let their children walk a block away. It is not immoral to let my son to walk less than a block away. My intention is to ease him into being a responsible adult a little at a time. When children are not given these chances, they may grow up being irresponsible with their freedom. The more knowledge/responsibility we give them now will help them grow into strong, aware individuals.

As parents we are faced with raising the future of our towns and cities. I am worried about the more of a police state we become, the less our children will experience in life. &

8212; Lori Frankenberger, Talent