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Illinois Supreme Court Weighing Hospital Tax Status

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing said losing Carle Hospital and its clinics from tax rolls has shifted the burden onto other taxpayers.

The Illinois Supreme Court considered a case Thursday that asks whether not-for-profit hospitals have to pay property taxes.

The case involves Urbana-based Carle Hospital and its clinics — though it could affect health systems across Illinois.  At issue is the constitutionality of a state law that exempts not-for-profit hospitals from paying property taxes.

Carle attorney Steven Pflaum argues every dollar a charitable hospital would spend on taxes takes away from other priorities.

"Hospitals are not-for-profit entities, and they need to be able to devote their resources for the charitable purposes that they serve, to delivering high-quality health care," Pflaum said.

But Laurel Prussing, the mayor of Urbana, said losing Carle from the tax rolls cost the city 11 percent of its tax base.

"What it did was shift Carle's burden to every other taxpayer in Urbana," Prussing said.

"Every other business, and all the residents."

There's no timeline for when the justices might rule on the case.

Brian Mackey covers Illinois state government and politics from the WUIS Statehouse bureau. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. He can be reached at (217) 206-6020.