St. Clair County won an appellate court case this week in the fight to tax a private military housing area at Scott Air Force Base. But hold the congratulatory calls.
This case is likely headed to the state Supreme Court, which could mean months or years of additional costly legal wrangling. The ultimate ruling is far from certain; the appellate court split 2-1 over whether the Hunt Development Group, which owns the houses, should pay property taxes.
Even if St. Clair County wins at the high court, it may lose on other levels. At a minimum there will be hard feelings and worse, maybe service cuts for the military members and their families who reside in those houses. The assistant secretary of the Air Force sent Gov. Pat Quinn a letter in 2012 urging him not to sign a bill allowing the county to levy the taxes and warning of possible service cuts for housing residents if he did.
For a county that is working hard to convince the Pentagon that it wants to expand operations at the base, this protracted legal fight is an odd way to show it.
Despite the appellate victory, there remains a need to compromise and settle this dispute out of court. The military and the Hunt Group will still be here after the legal battle is over. It would benefit our area if, instead of being adversaries, everyone felt like they were on the same side.