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May 22, 2014

Advice to Gibbons: Next time, try some tact

Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons, why don't you tell us what you really think about the Roxana School District?

Gibbons just settled a tax objection made by the Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery, then had many harsh words for Roxana school leaders. He said the district "attempted to grossly inflate" the refinery's tax bill and called for a "full review of the financial management of the district."

The school district did make a money grab when the refinery -- and its assessed value -- expanded. In 2010, the district collected $10.6 million in property taxes; the next year it collected $20.8 million. The refinery saw its tax bill go from $3.5 million for 2010 to $14.46 million for 2011. The settlement drops it to $6 million.

Still, what did Gibbons accomplish by publicly embarrassing the district's leaders? It's in everyone's best interest that the school district and the refinery negotiate a long-term tax agreement rather than spend years in court fighting over the amount. Gibbons should be helping facilitate that agreement. Instead he has alienated district leaders, and they may challenge his settlement in court. That's not the desired result.

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