URBANA — The first installment of OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center’s property-tax bill remains due Monday.
Champaign County Judge Jason Bohm declined to grant the hospital an emergency temporary restraining order Thursday, meaning county Treasurer Laurel Prussing can pursue payment from the hospital as well as legal remedies if it fails to pay.
OSF HealthCare’s tax bills on 51 properties for Heart of Mary came to $1,459,391, and $729,695 of that is due Monday.
Still before the court is OSF’s request for a preliminary injunction concerning the tax bill.
A hearing on the preliminary injunction, to be more involved than the one for a temporary restraining order, has been set for Aug. 27.
Bohm said a temporary restraining order is an extraordinary measure, and the hospital didn’t meet the requirements — among them that it lacks other adequate remedies and that it would suffer irreparable harm if the temporary restraining order wasn’t granted.
Michael Jente, a lawyer for Heart of Mary, argued that the hospital received a valid certificate for tax exemptions from the Illinois Department of Revenue in April and didn’t receive a tax bill from the county until June.
Based on the exemption certificate, OSF has contended, it should owe the treasurer nothing on Heart of Mary’s fully-exempt parcels and a total $3,087 on partially-exempt properties — with half that amount due July 1.
If the full $729,695 payment isn’t made July 1, however, the hospital would be subject to interest charges at the rate of 1.5 percent per month and the hospital properties would become subject to a property tax lien.
Champaign County Assistant State’s Attorney Joel Fletcher said the Department of Revenue has taken only preliminary action on OSF’s requests for exemptions. The county filed an objection to the exemptions, and a final determination by the department is still pending.
How long before that final determination would come is unknown, because the county has also asked the department to hold off on the OSF hearing until after a decision is issued on a separate lawsuit concerning the Carle health system’s property taxes. The Carle case went to trial in Champaign County earlier this year, but lawyers have been filing post-trial documents since then, and when a decision will be forthcoming is unknown.
Bohm said Heart of Mary wouldn’t be irreparably harmed without a temporary restraining order because if the hospital prevails before the Department of Revenue, it would be in line for a refund on its Champaign County tax payment, plus interest.
Peoria-based OSF HealthCare became the owner of the former Presence Covenant Medical Center, now Heart of Mary, in February 2018. The hospital filed applications for charitable tax exemptions with the Board of Review last fall and the board earlier this year recommended the state Department of Revenue deny the exemptions.