OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center

OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center in Urbana is shown in December 2018.

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URBANA — OSF HealthCare is taking Champaign County Treasurer Laurel Prussing to court over $1.45 million in property-tax bills issued to OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center of Urbana.

With the first installment on 2018 property taxes due Monday, OSF is looking for a judge to intervene fast.

A hearing in which OSF is seeking an emergency temporary restraining order to stop the treasurer from pursuing action on the tax bills is set for 10 a.m. today before Judge Jason Bohm.

On April 5, the Illinois Department of Revenue issued a property-tax exemption certificate finding OSF Heart of Mary properties to be fully or partially exempt, according to the OSF motion filed this week. Despite that finding, OSF HealthCare’s lawyers wrote, the county treasurer billed the hospital $1,459,391 for all the fully and partially exempt hospital properties.

“Although OSF requested that the treasurer recall these tax bills in light of the exemption certificate, the treasurer refused to do so,” the motion states.

Champaign County challenged the revenue department's approval of the exemptions for Heart of Mary soon after it happened and is awaiting a hearing on its challenge.

In a letter to OSF lawyers dated June 18, Champaign County Assistant State’s Attorney Joel Fletcher said OSF doesn’t have a right to a refund because exemption claims at issue are still subject to a revenue department hearing.

“If and when a final determination has been made that OSF is entitled to these exemptions, it will be entitled to a refund of all taxes paid,” he wrote.

OSF is also seeking an injunction “temporarily, preliminarily and permanently” keeping the treasurer from pursuing the tax bills issued for the Urbana hospital properties and from seeking any interest in connection with the tax bills as long as an exemption certificate remains in place.

Peoria-based OSF HealthCare purchased the Urbana hospital along with one in Danville in February 2018.

It’s now the third health system to challenge Champaign County officials in court over property-tax bills on Urbana hospitals.

Other lawsuits seeking property-tax refunds for prior tax years that were filed by the Carle Foundation and the former owner of Heart of Mary, Presence Health, are pending before other judges.

OSF first filed its applications for 2018 property-tax exemptions on 51 parcels of land with the Champaign County Board of Review in October 2018. The board of review conducted a hearing and earlier this year recommended to the Illinois Department of Revenue that the exemptions be denied.

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