Editorial: Anyone can dispute a tax bill

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Are Freeborn County Administrator Ron Gabrielsen’s unpaid Wisconsin taxes public information? Yes. Gabrielsen no doubt would agree.

That is not what the debate is about.

It is about two things.

The first is professional courtesy. It might be proper to bring the issue up at the commissioners’ public meeting, but when citizen Brian Bashans brought up the matter of Gabrielsen’s back taxes, wouldn’t it have been courteous of Commissioner Dan Belshan to not reiterate the same question? We expect professionalism among our elected leaders. Belshan should know better.

The second is whether it is a big deal. It is not as though Gabrielsen has simply refused to pay his taxes and is on the verge of being drawn and quartered by the Wisconsin State Patrol. The reason the issue first arose is local anti-everything yokels thought it was some kind of a bomb that would damage Gabrielsen. Bashans, with Belshan’s help, decided to deliver the bomb on July 18. But Gabrielsen simply is exercising the same right to dispute a tax bill that any citizen has. You can do it. We can do it. Corporations do it often. It really is not a big deal.

Gabrielsen’s divorce and his mother’s death complicated his tax bill. Wisconsin says he owes $52,085 in back taxes. The matter remains in litigation.

As we editorialized before, Gabrielsen should not have uttered vulgarities after the meeting &045; an incident that elevated the matter and itself is noteworthy. It was proper for him to apologize Tuesday.

But as for the matter of Gabrielsen disputing his taxes, we hope it can be laid to rest.