Smile Politely

Reading is FUNdamental

The City of Urbana has been involved in ongoing property tax discussions with Carle Hospital since at least 2002. It is rather easy to understand why a hospital that offers free health care to so many would want some tax breaks. It’s also easy to understand why taxing bodies within the City of Urbana would not want to give up the revenue stream those 71 properties in Urbana might generate. Carle wants you to know their organization is a very generous organization that (in 2013) provided $142.4M is services donations and support the community, which included $44M in free or discounted care to more than 27,000 patients. Here is a summary on Carle’s community giving. The City of Urbana claims that Carle is a greedy organization that does not want to pay it’s fair share of taxes.  

While Mayor Prussing is at war with Carle, she obviously doesn’t subscribe to the philosophies of Sun Tzu. Someone like former Champaign City Manager Steve Carter is someone who worked to understand his “enemy” and tried to win without conflict. Mayor Prussing seems to be more of a fan of Genghis Khan, but certainly lacks the political effectiveness and fearsome reputation. The Urbana homeowners, business owners, renters, and others should all be paying close attention to this situation as it impacts them greatly. Life was already a challenge in Urbana before this Carle mess as Urbana enters into its sixth year of ongoing budget deficits. This situation is particularly difficult for property owners who are paying significantly more in property taxes and will have an even bigger challenge trying to sell their property if they don’t get some relief. While Carle has a deal on the table that would have prevented prevented short-term property tax increases, the long-term outlook for Urbana property tax payers looks grim. 

When Governor Quinn signed SB2194, it was probably the nail in the coffin for Urbana home owners. How in the holy hell does SB2194 slip by without any fight from the City of Urbana and State Rep Naomi Jakobsson? The Urbana property tax conversation has been ongoing and is obviously very important to City of Urbana taxpayers. Not only was there little/no fight on the proposed legislation, Rep. Naomi Jakobsson ACTUALLY VOTED FOR IT! I’ve pasted the language from the summary of SB2194 below.  Anybody with basic reading comprehension skills who has been following the property tax discussion over the years should have known this was a giant red flag and probably should have looked into it. Obviously, nobody was paying attention. As a business owner, I pay membership fees to business organizations that track legislation and alert us to possible legislative changes that might impact our businesses. You would think that Mayor Prussing and then State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson and her staff would have been on top of this. Did they drop the ball? Hell yes they did. In fairness to Rep. Jakobsson, she did try to rectify her screw-up by introducing a follow-up bill to ease the ‘Carle Effect’. I don’t believe a law currently exists that requires lawmakers to read the legislation they are voting on, but maybe someone should introduce one quickly. Both sides in this debate make valid points, but nobody can debate that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. If voting SB2194 into law wasn’t the nail in the coffin for Urbana taxpayers, I suspect the election of Bruce Rauner made even less likely for newly-elected State Rep Carol Ammons to address the concerns of Urbana taxpayers.   What a disaster!  

You are free to believe the “unintended consequences” argument that Naomi Jakobsson has offered up as an excuse for her voting on SB2194. If you are going to give that much benefit of the doubt to those who share your political views, maybe you can at least try to take a minute and try to understand Carle’s side of the argument. If you put politics and incompetency aside, it is a compelling argument that the citizens of Urbana incur an unfair burden as a result of Carle’s exceptional generosity. The problem is that nobody was having that discussion when the bill was being considered before the legislature. If you’re going to buy into the “unintended consequences” excuse, at least appreciate that all the hospitals across the state knew precisely what was contained in SB2194 and they intimately understood the benefits/ramifications it would have if it became law. It just amazes me that Naomi Jakobsson and her sympathizers get so offended over a photoshopped campaign postcard by a Republican that pays her a compliment. There was even a press conference. There was a featured article about the postcard in Smile Politely. The drama! But when something like SB2194 crosses her desk, there was hardly a whisper. Instead of addressing the issue with diplomacy, the taxpayers of Urbana are now pawns in Prussing’s war against Carle and are now more reliant on a favorable legal decision and/or Carle’s generosity. Good luck with that.  

From SB 2194 Summary:

Creates an exemption for hospitals that provide health care services to low-income and underserved individuals. Amends the Illinois Income Tax Act. Creates a credit for hospitals in an amount equal to the lesser of the amount of real property taxes paid during the tax year on real property used for hospital purposes during the prior tax year or the cost of free or discounted services provided during the tax year pursuant to the hospital’s charitable financial assistance policy, measured at cost. Amends the Use Tax Act, the Service Use Tax Act, the Service Occupation Tax Act, and the Retailers’ Occupation Tax Act. Provides that property sold to or used certain hospitals is exempt. Amends the Hospital Provider Funding Article of the Illinois Public Aid Code. Imposes specific assessments on outpatient services for State fiscal years 2013 through 2014, and July 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014. Contains provisions concerning the effective date of the assessments. Requires certain transfers from the Hospital Provider Fund for State fiscal years 2013 and 2014. Provides that the new assessments shall not take effect or shall cease to be imposed if certain criteria are met. Contains provisions concerning: hospital access improvement payments on or after July 1, 2012; magnet and perinatal hospital adjustments; trauma level II adjustments; dual eligible adjustments; medicaid volume adjustments; outpatient service adjustments; care coordination adjustments; specialty hospital adjustments; physician supplemental adjustments; and protection of federal revenue. Defines terms. Makes other changes. Effective immediately.

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