A circuit court judge in Sangamon County, Ill., today sided with 128-bed Provena Covenant Medical Center in its long battle to reclaim the property-tax exemption it lost four years ago, as well as the $6 million in taxes it paid as a result.
Judge Patrick Londrigan listened to oral arguments for about an hour this afternoon and ruled from the bench in favor of the Urbana, Ill., hospital.
The judge was prepared, said Patrick Coffey, a partner in the Chicago office of Lord, Bissell & Brook representing Provena. Hed obviously spend a good deal of time reading the material.
Londrigan did not explain his decision, Coffey said.
The Champaign County (Ill.) Board of Review recommended in 2002 that Covenant lose its exemption, arguing that its billing and collections practices were out of line with its charitable mission. The Illinois Department of Revenue complied, and late last year Revenue Director Brian Hamer affirmed the decision.
Six-hospital Provena challenged the decision in Sangamon County because its the home of the states capital city, Springfield. Were overjoyed, Provena spokeswoman Lisa Lagger said. I think Provena has always at its core lived its mission.
Since losing the exemption, Covenant has paid about $6 million in property taxes, which the state would have to pay back if the ruling stands.
Hamer spokesman Mike Klemens said the department hadn't determined its next step.
We still believe we were right, Klemens said. Well review the transcript and then decide whether to appeal. -- by Gregg Blesch