Illinois attorney general seeks stay on hospital tax ruling

URBANA, Ill. (AP) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office is asking an appeals court to hold back enforcement of its ruling on a part of a state law that lets hospitals avoid taxes.

The 4th District Appellate Court ruled last month that the state's 2012 charity care law was unconstitutional because it created a tax exemption for hospitals without requiring the properties to be used only for charity purposes, The (Champaign) News-Gazette reported. The charity care law redefined the terms by which nonprofit hospitals receive property tax exemptions.

Based on the appellate court's decision, the Champaign County Board of Review voted last week to place the Carle health system and Presence Covenant Medical Center back on the local tax rolls. At the same time, Carle announced plans to appeal the appellate court's Jan. 5 decision to the state Supreme Court.

A motion to stay the enforcement of the ruling in the case involving Carle, local taxing districts and the state Department of Revenue was filed last Thursday by Assistant Attorney General Carl Elitz. The motion says the Department of Revenue is seeking further appellate review in the state Supreme Court, but anticipates it will continue receiving tax exemption applications while the Carle appeal progresses.

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

Elitz also said in the motion that the justices in the 4th District Appellate Court who declared the state charity care law unconstitutional are most familiar with the decision and its likely effect.

The city of Urbana will fight any move to stay the appellate court decision, according to Mike Monson, chief of staff for Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing.

Once the hospital properties are assessed and billed for 2015 property taxes, Urbana residents could see their property taxes go down at least 11 percent this year, Prussing said.