Hospital property tax exemption too broad

Hospital property tax exemption too broad

Last year, the Illinois Legislature passed a new Medicaid law (SB 2194) that makes health care facilities 100 percent exempt from property taxes if they show that the value of their "charity care" exceeds the value of their property tax payment.

The city of Urbana and other taxing bodies had prepared for change but not at the drastic level created by the new law. The bill made all of Carle Foundation's properties tax-exempt (including things like parking facilities and power plants) and established a broader definition of what qualifies as charity care.

It was made worse because Carle filed for new tax exemptions on the last possible day, long after taxing districts set their tax levies.

This creates a financial crisis for Urbana's taxpayers because 90 percent of Carle's equalized assessed valuation is located in Urbana. Over $61 million in assessed value will go off the tax rolls.

If we don't get this fixed, the tax shortfall will be made up by those who still pay taxes. Our property tax rate will increase to the point where we are un-competitive with neighboring communities and the financial burden on property owners will be intolerable.

What can taxpayers do? Call and tell our local legislators and Gov. Pat Quinn to address the legislation's flaws.

Urbana taxpayers should not pay for Carle's charity care for the entire region. Ask them to re-examine how charity care is defined and how its value is calculated. Tell them that Urbana taxpayers will fight for an equitable solution to the un-sustainable financial burden created by SB 2194.

Alderwoman DIANE W. MARLIN