News Local/State

Attorney General Seeks Stay Of Tax Ruling Impacting Urbana Hospitals

A sign in front of a home on Lincoln Avenue in Urbana protests Carle Hospital's tax-exempt status.

A sign in front of a home on Lincoln Avenue in Urbana protests Carle Hospital's tax-exempt status. Travis Stansel/Illinois Public Media

Illinois' Attorney General is seeking a stay of the 4th District Appellate Court ruling that struck down a state law providing property tax exemptions to hospitals that provide charity care to be unconstitutional.  The motion for a stay of the court's January 5 decision was filed with the appellate court on January 28.

In ruling the state law unconstitutional last month, the 4th District Appellate Court concluded that the law falls short of Illinois constitutional guidelines, because it allowed tax exempt status for properties used only partially for charitable purposes.  That 2012 law overrode an earlier Supreme Court ruling.

Following the appellate court's ruling, the Champaign County Board of Review voted last week to place both Carle and Presence Covenant Medical Center back on the local property tax rolls.

Meanwhile, the Carle health system said it will file an appeal of the ruling with the Illinois Supreme Court.

The motion for a stay, filed by Assistant Attorney General Carl Elitz, says the Illinois Department of Revenue is seeking further appellate review with the state Supreme Court, but anticipates that it will continue to receive applications for tax exemptions based on the charity care law, while the Carle appeal progresses.

"Without relief from the judgment, its authority to do so (or to take any action on pending applications) is unclear," the motion states.

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing says the city will fight the stay.

"This is a legal system that gives people the right to appeal at every level, so I'm not surprised (the Attorney General) is doing this," she said.  "But I think it will just grind itself out, and (Carle) will end up paying taxes."

Prussing says she hopes to see Carle pay property taxes, and have the funds put into escrow, rather than the public having to pay those funds while the legal process plays out.